It's hard to live in the present when your brain keeps bringing up the past.
Trauma — very recent or from years past, physical or emotional, big or small — can wreak havoc on a person's self-esteem, relationships, or even, their ability to perform basic daily tasks. Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) is an evidence-based therapy approach used by therapists at Seasons Counseling Orlando to help clients tackle distressing memories with the goal of eradicating unhelpful (and automatic) responses to the wounds of their past.
How does EMDR work?
WHAT DOES EMDR TREAT?
- Panic Attacks
- Performance Anxiety
- Domestic Abuse
- Disturbing Memories
- Childhood Trauma
- Body Image Issues
- Stress Reduction
- Personality Disorders
- Complicated Grief
- Sexual Abuse
- Pain Disorders
"EMDR therapy targets the unprocessed memories that contain negative emotions, sensations and beliefs. By activating the brain's information processing system, the old memories can be 'digested.' [This means] what is useful is learned, what's useless is discarded, and the memory is now stored in a way that is no longer damaging." (Francine Shapiro, PhD in Getting Past Your Past)
To start an EMDR session, a therapist works with a client to identify specific problems and associated memories to process in therapy. As the client recalls a targeted distressing memory, the therapist facilitates bilateral stimulation of the brain. Most often this dual stimulation of the brain happens through guided eye movements, but occasionally audio or tapping may be used. The stimulation lights up the brain's memory networks and jump-starts adaptive information processing. Bilateral stimulation continues, with the therapist checking in regularly for feedback, until a memory becomes less distressing and even becomes associated with positive self-talk and core beliefs.
Heal Your Brain, Heal Your Pain
When going through a difficult experience, it is normal to feel a range of emotions. However, in cases of trauma, tragedy, or abuse, a person's cognitive processors may shut down in attempt to cope or survive. Still, the brain and body remain on high alert, capturing fragments of sound, smell, and feelings associated with the event, trapping the memory in a maladaptive way that prevents important neural connections from being made that would ensure accurate processing and adaptive interpretation of the distressing event.
Even when your mind has little recollection of distressing past experiences, your body remembers. As a result, a sound, smell, person or experience can trigger a memory of unprocessed trauma, engaging a chain reaction of intense, and often, unexpected neuro-physiological responses. Until you are able to access, reprocess and accept your distressing memories, symptoms are likely to continue, compromising your access to peace, joy and healthy relationships.
EMDR is that path to healing.