How Can EMDR Help Me?
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Dr. Lynne Logan is a Certified EMDR Therapist by EMDRIA
EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing, and has helped an estimated TWO MILLION people of all ages, including children, relieve many types of psychological stress. EMDR is an intensive procedure for working through upsetting material and is considered a major advancement in the mental health field.
EMDR is a revolutionary method of psychotherapy extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of all levels of trauma, and helping with a wide range of emotional and personal problems. Organizations worldwide agree EMDR is effective in the treatment of traumatic events and other disturbing memories. Here, you will find brief answers to the most asked questions about EMDR, this breakthrough in mental health treatment.
“The speed at which change occurs during EMDR contradicts the traditional notion of time as essential for psychological healing.”
Bessel A. van der kolk, M.D.
Professor of Psychiatry, Boston University, School of Medicine
“EMDR is one of the most powerful tools I’ve encountered for treating post-traumatic stress. In the hands of a competent and compassionate therapist, it gives people the means to heal themselves.”
Steven Silver, Ph.D. Director of the PTSD Unit,
Veterans Admin. Medical Center, Coatesville, Penn.
On This Page . . .
- What Is EMDR?
- Is EMDR Hypnosis?
- How Can EMDR Help Me?
- How Does EMDR Help With Trauma?
- How Do We React to Trauma?
- Does EMDR Have Me Relive the Trauma?
- How Long Does EMDR Treatment Take?
- Can EMDR Help Children?
- Who Provides EMDR Treatment?
What is EMDR?
EMDR is a powerful protocol which allows the frozen negative thoughts and emotions related to a disturbing memory, which are stored in the brain to be ‘reactivated’ and fully processed. This allows the memory to remain, but without the negative emotional power. Your brain then stores the emotions in a more effective way and is able to guide you to more healthy and positive choices for your life.
EMDR is unique because it helps a person process the negative emotions and information that has become ‘stuck’ in the central nervous system. Brain scans have actually captured information transferring from one side of a brain to another as a person goes through an EMDR session.
Is EMDR Hypnosis?
No. During the EMDR session, the client is awake and alert and in control at all times. The healing that takes place with EMDR is much faster than with hypnotherapy. EMDR seems to work with the unconscious mind, bringing into consciousness the repressed thoughts and feelings that must be experienced again in order to release their negative emotional hold on the person. EMDR is an intensive procedure for working through upsetting material and disturbing memories.
EMDR should only be provided by a mental health professional with formal, supervised training in EMDR. It is safe, and does not involve hypnosis or drugs. Research has shown that EMDR can help to make treatment both fast and effective.
How Can EMDR Help Me?
- Panic Attacks
- Performance Anxiety
- Relationship Issues
- Childhood Abuse
- Low Self Esteem
- Abandonment Issues
- Anger Issues
- Guilt Issues
- Victims of Crime
- Auto Accident Trauma
- Social Shyness
How Does EMDR Help With Trauma?
Let’s first define trauma and briefly understand how trauma affects the brain. Emotional trauma is defined as an extraordinary experience accompanied with intense emotions such as danger, fear or terror.
With Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the brain has failed to successfully process the trauma and the intense emotions become unprocessed (‘stuck’) in the central nervous system. The body fails to recognize that the person is now safe. In PTSD, the brain reacts as though danger is present and the experience is current. Environmental triggers or cues can cause the reactivation of the traumatic memory and the intense symptoms PTSD. Trauma can be physical, emotional, or verbal. A few examples of trauma are:
- Auto accidents
- Family abuse
- Involved in a disaster
- Witnessing others (such as siblings) being abused
- Seeing your parents in abusive situations
The goal of EMDR therapy is to leave you with healthier emotions, accurate understanding, and new perspectives that will lead to healthy and more positive behaviors.
How Do We React to Trauma?
When you go through a traumatic experience, your brain tells your body to do one of two behaviors:
For example, if you grew up in an abusive home during your childhood, you most likely were not able to ‘fight’ the situation. Children are usually powerless to protect themselves either physically, verbally or emotionally. As a child, you probably were not able to ‘flee’ from your home.
Or perhaps as an adult, you were a victim of a crime, and you were unable to flee from the scene or fight back. The traumatic event became stored in your memory along with the intense emotions, often the emotion of terror. After the traumatic event, what happens next determines down the line if Post Traumatic Stress Disorder may surface to disrupt your life.
After a traumatic experience, your brain gives instructions on what to do with your emotions. It is not uncommon for an individual to ‘shut down’, turn their emotions ‘off’, and not want to talk about what happened. But the negative emotions don’t go away. Kept ‘frozen’ in the brain, these emotions can have powerful effects on your current emotions and behaviors.
Even though the traumatic event has ended for a child or a victim, the fearful memory, anxiety, and intense emotions can still remain stored in the brain. Left ‘frozen’, these emotions are often the basic foundation of negative adult behaviors and thoughts. Instead of making important decisions with confidence, security, and a healthy self esteem, one makes decisions based on fear, anxiety and doubt.
Intense emotions remain in the brain until they are experienced or what EMDR calls ‘reprocessed.’ No amount of rational thinking or intellectualizing about the memory fully help, since the traumatic emotions are not held in a part of the brain which deals with rational thought.
EMDR will help you reprocess the stored emotional content in the area of your brain where emotions are held, so life is healthier and more positive.
Try This Simple Exercise . . .
Here’s a simple exercise you can do right now. Recall a past negative experience and think of a distressful image of the memory. Close you eyes and see the picture in your mind.
What feelings come up? Do you feel anxious, sad, fearful, upset? If so, you may have not yet fully processed what happened. You may have ‘frozen emotions’ related to the memory still stored in your brain. EMDR can help you resolve and integrate these fragments which may be causing current problems in your life.
Does EMDR Have Me Relive the Trauma?
During EMDR, many people are aware of only a shadow of the experience, while others feel it to a greater degree. EMDR clients are not asked to relive the trauma intensely or for prolonged periods of time. In EMDR, when there is a high level of intensity, it only lasts for a few moments and then decreases rapidly. If it does not decrease rapidly on its own, the clinician has been trained in techniques to assist in dissipating it. The client is also given techniques to learn how to immediately relieve the distress.
How Long Does EMDR Take?
Two or more sessions are required for the therapist to gather history, understand the nature of the problem, and to decide whether EMDR is an appropriate treatment. The therapist will also discuss EMDR more fully and provide an opportunity to answer questions about the method. Once the therapist and client have agreed that EMDR is appropriate for a specific problem, the actual EMDR therapy may begin.
A typical EMDR session lasts 90 minutes. The type of problem, life circumstances, and the amount of previous trauma will determine how many treatment sessions are necessary.
Can EMDR Help Children?
Yes. This revolutionary therapy has been adapted and modified for children. Over the last decade, EMDR has been used worldwide to help children with a variety of different problems and circumstances with positive results. Excellent outcomes in the Oklahoma City bombing, Hurricane Andrew, the shootings in Jonesboro, Arkansas, and the tragedy of 9/11 are a few case examples being successfully used with children.
Depending on a child’s age, they may not have the skills to verbally discuss their negative experiences. Even older children often feel helpless as to how to tell anyone about a disturbing experience or discuss their painful emotions. If your child has witnessed or been exposed to trauma or chronic stress, abuse, neglect, humiliation, or bullying, you may want to have him/her talk with an experienced trauma therapist. Children often respond well to EMDR, and often the treatment is faster than adults.
EMDR helps resolve troubling thought and emotions related to the distressing memory so the child can return to his/her normal developmental tasks and prior level of coping. EMDR can also help strengthen feelings of confidence, calmness and mastery.
Who Provides EMDR?
EMDR is a powerful treatment, and it is crucial your therapist is trained or certified by an EMDRIA approved training. “Certification” insures your therapist has gone through a higher level of training and experience. EMDRIA has an extensive educational process, allowing only licensed mental health and medical professionals to be certified/credentialed by them. It is extremely important you ask a therapist about their training and experience in EMDR.
Are You Considering EMDR?
Read The Important Information Below First!!
EMDR has 3 Levels of Training:
Level 1 (Basic), Level 2 and Certified/Credentialed
IMPORTANT! EMDR is a highly specialized protocol for treatment. If you are considering EMDR, it is essential you ask the clinician the following important questions before you make an appointment:
- What level of EMDR training have you taken?
- What year did you take your training?
- How many clients have you treated with EMDR?
- What has been your success rate with EMDR?
- Are you a member of EMDRIA?
High Recommendations Worldwide for EMDR
EMDR is the most researched treatment method for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The following associations have given EMDR therapy high recommendations:
- American Psychiatric Association (2004). Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients with Acute Stress Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association Practice Guidelines.
- Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense (2004). EMDR was determined to be an effective treatment of trauma. VA/DoD Clinical Practice Guideline for the Management of Post-Traumatic Stress. Washington, DC. EMDR was placed in the “A” category as “strongly recommended” for the treatment of trauma.
- American Psychological Association Division of Clinical Psychology’s list, EMDR is listed as an empirically validated method.
- The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies has stated that EMDR is an “effective treatment.”
- The United Kingdom Department of Health has listed EMDR as an effective treatment.
EMDR is endorsed by:
- American Red Cross
- International Critical Incident Stress Mngmt. Foundation
- Major HMO’s such as Kaiser and Value Options.
EMDR was used extensively to treat survivors of the aftermath of both tragedies:
- New York, 9-11
- Oklahoma City Bombing
For More Information about EMDR, or to find a trained EMDR specialist in your area, contact: