EMDR is a treatment used to help people who’ve been physically or emotionally traumatized. Trauma symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, spacing out, panic, numbness, being easily startled, or a sense of a foreshortened future. These symptoms may be signs of full blown PTSD, (posttraumatic stress disorder) or general trauma responses.
EMDR helps people who can’t get over the trauma. You may notice you can’t get your thoughts, emotions and behavior to work altogether in a healthy way. This happens because sad or traumatic life experiences seem to “freeze” our emotional logic and trigger us into seemingly irrational feelings and behavior. We may know one thing, but feel or behave completely differently. We feel out of control. If we experience any kind of assault or even witness it, we somehow think it’s our fault.
It’s really not irrational. You needed to “freeze” at the time of the trauma in order to survive. But what’s happening now is that present situations are triggering that “frozen” emotional state, making you feel as if your survival is again at risk. Something happens which takes your body sensations or thoughts back to the bad experience and you have an emotional “meltdown”. In other words, you react to certain present situations as if you were still back in the traumatic event. What helped in the past is a problem in the present.
EMDR is an effective therapy in which the therapist guides you in your own self healing. It helps you get unstuck. You free yourself of negative thoughts about yourself by focusing, at your own pace, on the traumatic “freeze”: body sensation, thoughts and emotions surrounding the traumatic event. With the support and skills of the therapist, the psyche remembers what it already knows: its not you, it’s what happened to you.
You deserve to feel better.
How does EMDR work?
Picture your physical circulatory system. It flows through your body in a healthy way and all is well. Now imagine you have an emotional circulatory system. Something happens which traumatizes you. It may be being bullied, abused, a bad break up, an affair or a physical trauma like a car accident or a medical issue. Or in general you don’t feel good about yourself. If you cannot work through this on your own, it clogs up your emotional circulation like a big “lump” on your head. You can’t feel well because, as EMDR teaches us, inside that lump are negative thought about yourself, emotions, and body sensations related to the trauma. The emotional circulation is not functioning in a healthy manner.
EMDR “melts’ the lump and you feel well again. Starting with whichever memory hurts the most, you close your eyes and, holding small vibrating pulsers, you just watch what comes up in your mind as if it were a movie. By watching from a distance, you feel safe and see that any negative thoughts you’re holding about yourself are not fair to you and you finally feel good about yourself! EMDR desensitizes the memory and it cannot hurt you anymore.