What is EMDR Therapy?
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for resolving emotional difficulties resulting from distressing, difficult or dangerous events. These traumas result in anxiety, depression, irritability, anger, guilt and behavior challenges. Most people identify accidents, abuse, violence, death of a loved one and natural disasters as being a traumatic event, but most people do not understand fully how these events impact how the brain and body remember the experience, and ultimately react to everyday situations. Even common daily situations can be experienced as scary or painful, and result by deeply affecting a person’s sense of safety or security, self-esteem and overall development. These previous traumatic events overly influence your present state of emotions, sensations and thinking about yourself. The EMDR psychotherapy approach helps you break through the emotional blocks that are keeping you from living an adaptive and emotionally healthy life.
How does EMDR work?
EMDR focuses on the brain’s ability to constantly learn, by taking past experiences and updating them with present information, giving you your power back with your emotions, bodily sensations and thinking about yourself.
- The brain’s adaptive learning is constantly updating memory network systems
- Past emotionally charged events block or interfere with your brain’s ability to process present situations in the here and now
- EMDR therapy helps you break through this block, or “stuck place” to let go of the previous experience and allow you to experience the present moment with a more adaptive, healthier overall experience
The EMDR protocol utilizes bilateral stimulation (BLS) to reorganize your brains negative and positive emotions, sensations and thoughts to help the brain reprocess the “stuck” memories, providing you with present experiences where you feel more calm and peaceful, and ultimately have more adaptive beliefs about self.
Throughout the EMDR therapy, you will engage in sets of eye movements, or auditory or tactile BLS, that will be alternated with brief reports about what you notice during the set. This processing continues until the past experience has been reprocessed with the more adaptive present belief system and emotional response. EMDR can be a brief therapy, although length of treatment is dependent upon the complexity of the presenting concerns and how your brain and body process through the EMDR therapy, allowing your previous experiences to no longer be “stuck” in your memory networks.
What does EMDR help?
EMDR had been originally established as helpful for PTSD, although it’s been proven useful for treatment in the following conditions:
- Panic Attacks
- Complicated Grief
- Dissociative Orders
- Disturbing Memories
- Pain Disorders
- Performance Anxiety
- Stress Reduction
- Sexual and/or Physical Abuse
- Body Dysmorphic Disorders
- Personality Disorders
Can EMDR help my child?
EMDR can be used with individuals of all ages, including very young children and preverbal children. Therapists working with children will often also utilize Play Therapy incorporated with EMDR to best support their work and developmental needs. As with all of our therapeutic approaches, your EMDR therapist will individualize the treatment goals, taking into consideration your child’s overall developmental needs, family values and previous experiences.
Contact us today for a free phone consultation to see if EMDR might be a good fit for you, or your child or teen.
Our EMDR Trained Therapists
Lee’s Summit Office
St. Joseph Office