Healing through Eye Movement, Desensitization, and Reprocessing (EMDR)

When suffering from untreated trauma, or extreme stress, the world can appear hazy, unpredictable, and full of peril. Freedom from symptoms can be hard to imagine and feel unreachable. But there is cause for hope and healing from past trauma and PTSD symptoms through modern modalities. Our approach includes mindfulness training, CBT, and DBT treatment to help reduce symptom frequency and intensity, followed by EMDR to fully heal and resolve old wounds.  We treat combat veterans, victims of violence, sexual trauma, childhood neglect and/or abuse, trauma associated with pregnancy or childbirth, postpartum depression, domestic violence, substance abuse related to unhealed trauma, and other forms of mental and emotional injury. 

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a treatment developed by Francine Shapiro in 1987, to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories, and has been researched and validated over the past 30 years as an effective treatment for PTSD. It has since been found helpful in reducing symptoms of depression, anxiety, eating disorders, processing grief, moving through mental blocks, and increasing sense of self and creativity, While EMDR is a form of exposure therapy, it is gentle, paced to suit the individual client, and allows the client to be in control throughout treatment.

 

EMDR reduces suffering. After successful treatment with EMDR, emotional distress (i.e. fear, anxiety, panic, anger) is relieved, negative beliefs are replaced with more adaptive and accurate beliefs, and physiological disturbance (i.e. panic response, agitation) is reduced or eliminated. During treatment the client is guided to focus on emotionally disturbing material, in brief sequential doses, in a controlled and gentle way, while simultaneously focusing on an external stimulus (bi-lateral eye movement, audible tones, and/or tactile stimulation).  Effective treatment results in new memory associations, new learning, reduction or elimination of emotional distress, development of cognitive insights, and strengthening one's sense of self.

EMDR uses a multi-phase approach to address past traumas and current situations which may trigger disproportionate (dysfunctional) responses.

EMDR treatment is comprised of the following 8 phases:

  1. History taking and treatment planning: Client will work with therapist to develop a full history and complete relevant assessments. Therapist and client work together to identify targets for treatment that include past memories, current triggers, symptoms, and future goals.

  2. Preparation, resourcing, and symptom stabilization: This phase includes learning skills to increase the ability to tolerate disturbance without becoming flooded, and working to reduce symptoms in daily life before proceeding.  

  3. Assessing disturbing memory: Memory details (image, distorted beliefs, sensory disturbance, and associated emotions) are identified, assessed, and rated/scored by client.

  4. Processing targeted memory: The memory is actively processed, in brief sets, to desensitize the targeted material. This phase is repeated for each targeted memory, until the memory no longer produces disturbance.

  5. Installation: During the installation phase adaptive beliefs about the disturbing or traumatic event, and insights gained, are reinforced.

  6. Body scan: To ensure there are no sensory disturbances associated with the original memory remaining in the system, the client is guided through a full body scan. If any disturbance is identified it is processed until resolved.

  7. ​Closure: A process to review highlights of the processing session, preparation for managing possible symptoms between sessions, and utilizing calming techniques (i.e. grounding, breathing, visualization) as needed, at the close of each treatment session.

  8. Evaluation/reevaluation of the initial targeted memory to ensure the entire disturbing event has been fully healed.

Each phase is tailored to the specific needs of the individual client. Through this process EMDR allows the brain to fully process the disturbing experience, allowing the reduction or complete elimination of the physiological, emotional, psychological, and spiritual disturbances associated with the initial experience. If you would like to learn more about EMDR, or are interested in healing from past traumatic injury, please contact us, using the form below.