EMDR therapy stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy. EMDR therapy is based on the idea that stressful/traumatic experiences can get "stuck" in our nervous system and cause symptoms such as anxiety, depression, panic attacks, addiction, PTSD, and more.
EMDR can help increase our mind-body connection so we will not just understand something to be true but also feel the sense of its truth. For example, you may have processed an event or situation with your mind by thinking, talking, and writing about it. Yet, your nervous system may not have processed it.
Circumstances that may indicate a stressful or traumatic event may not have been processed out of your nervous system include:
In these cases, your present-day situation might be different from your past, but past stressful or traumatic events may hijack your emotions and body sensations as if these events are still happening.
EMDR is different from talk therapy in that it not only involves verbal communication but it also engages your body with the use of bilateral stimulation. Bilateral stimulation is side-to-side movement from left to right and can take different forms, such as eye movement, tapping, or listening to a tone.
The bilateral stimulation of eye movements, tapping, or tones relaxes the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for flight, fight, or freeze responses, by engaging the parasympathetic nervous system. When your nervous system is a bit more relaxed, the brain has more of a capacity to integrate past experiences and gain a more adaptive perspective.
EMDR can help to reduce the emotional charge around stressful or traumatic events from your past, present-day, and even the anticipation of being triggered in the future—allowing you to be less triggered in your present life.
Past memories, current situations, and even anticipating situations that may be triggering in the future can be reprocessed or processed so that you can feel more present and less triggered.
The reprocessing occurs when there is dual attention of:
There are different theories as to why the bilateral situation works. One theory suggests that bilateral stimulation increased the prefrontal orbital cortex capacity while thinking about particular memories. There is a greater sense of mindfulness and improved perspective in this region of the brain, which is responsible for higher executive functions.
Having access to a higher level of brain function allows you to better integrate your stressful or traumatic experiences in such as way that these past events are now in your long-term memory and are less emotionally charged in the present.
EMDR therapy can help you overcome negative beliefs, emotions, and body sensations associated with stressful or traumatic events that are holding you back and preventing you from living a fulfilling life by reducing the impact of triggering memories. It effectively reduces anxiety, stress, and trauma symptoms while improving emotional regulation, increasing self-esteem, and enhancing personal growth.
Using EMDR therapy for anxiety helps by allowing you to process the underlying beliefs, emotions, and body sensations that are contributing to your anxiety and Panic attacks. By reprocessing these beliefs, emotions, and body sensations, you can reduce the intensity of the associated emotions, which allows you to have more mental bandwidth to learn and implement new coping strategies and have a more adaptive perspective.
Using EMDR helps with trauma and PTSD by allowing you to process the traumatic experience in a safe and controlled environment. It then enables you to reprocess the memory and reduce the intensity of the associated emotions. EMDR effectively reduces PTSD symptoms, including flashbacks, nightmares, and hypervigilance.
Addiction and Eating Disorders can be a way to distract oneself from stress, traumatic events, and maladaptive thinking patterns. EMDR can be used to address these conscious and even unconscious concerns in order to reduce the need for distraction with an addiction or an Eating Disorder. EMDR also helps decrease the intensity of cravings and gives you more control over your thoughts and behaviors.
When your brain is stuck in unhealthy patterns, you might feel you can never get past your negative thoughts. EMDR therapy is a therapy modality that assists you in processing not only your thoughts but also your emotions and body sensations associated with past stressful or traumatic events. When the brain and nervous system are less flooded with emotions, there is a higher capacity to transform your thinking and allow you to move forward and live a happier life.
Want to experience what EMDR can do for you?
Our team of experts serves the state of New York, helping clients overcome trauma, anxiety, and other mental health challenges. With our compassionate and skilled therapists guiding you through the process, you can unlock the healing potential of EMDR and achieve lasting change in your life.
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