What is EMDR?

“Anything that keeps you from being a shooting star is either a memory or a lie.” -Deb Kennard, Founder of The Personal Transformation Institute
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Have you ever had a photo taken of you that you despised? No matter how many people told you, “You look great! What are you talking about?” or “I like that picture of you!” you still do not like that photo? What we believe about ourselves holds the greatest power.

EMDR Therapy is a well-researched and highly effective treatment originated for trauma survivors. One crucial part of EMDR Therapy, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is taking a negative cognition (perhaps one knows that they are enough, but they do not feel enough) and reframing it to a true positive cognition. This empowers the client to not just change, but maintain a new perspective of themselves.

EMDR can be difficult for some clients to buy into as it is quite different from traditional talk therapy. However, in my opinion, it is a much kinder way to treat trauma while getting to the core of the distress.

The first step in EMDR is establishing resources to help with emotional regulation. This way, when encountering a stressor, a client is well equipped with a variety of tools to manage it more effectively. Next, the client is asked to bring up disturbing memories. These memories may be big T trauma such as an act of violence or abuse, or they may be little t trauma such as harsh words a parent said or an embarrassing event that happened at school. Little t trauma is little not in that it is less impactful, but it is often less obvious. After memories are identified, clients proceed in a structured process to desensitize the emotional charge connected to the event and aid the brain and body in reprocessing the trauma adaptively. This is done with bilateral stimulation or BLS. BLS stimulates both hemispheres of the brain and can be done visually with eye movements, tactile with tapping, or auditory with tones. This enables the client to be both grounded to the present and an observer of the event being reprocessed. One of the best parts of EMDR is that details are not necessary for healing. Often only a few words or short phrases are needed. This protects clients from re-traumatization or retelling the trauma narrative. The last step of EMDR involves looking at the future and reprocessing any roadblocks that get in the way of one responding confidently in the way they desire.

Clients are frequently astonished with the change they see in themselves and how it has a rippling effect on their relationships. Many leave therapy stating they feel stronger, more empowered, and hold a greater sense of self-efficacy.

Below are some quotes I have frequently received from clients who chose to try EMDR Therapy:

“It feels like the trauma is being erased.”

“The memory feels far away and distant.”

“I feel like I have a foundation we are building on.” 

“The eye movements help to dissipate the trigger.”

“I feel like we are healing the core of the trauma with EMDR when in talk therapy I have only got to the surface and been re-traumatized.”

“I know I have all the resources I need now.”

“I have always been triggered by this memory.  Now I don’t feel any charge with it.  The emotion is gone.  I didn’t know how heavy it was until I had relief from it.”

“I am constantly more appreciative and impressed with how what we are doing in here helps to improve my daily life.”

“I am more secure and confident in myself.”

“The trauma doesn’t define me.  It’s lost its power.”

“I don’t know how I have never heard of this before.  It is life changing!”

If you are considering EMDR Therapy, I cannot recommend it enough! Check out the EMDRIA (EMDR International Association) video below for more information. Thanks for reading!