EMDR is here to help in a world fraught with turmoil and strife. One where conflicts like those in Israel and Ukraine seem unending. Everyday traumas often go unnoticed. There is a beacon of hope emerging. A groundbreaking therapy, called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). is emerging as a beacon of hope. EMDR isn’t just about treating severe war-related trauma. It is a versatile tool that can help individuals heal from a wide range of emotional wounds. It is effective dealing with the scars of war to the pains of childhood bullying.
EMDR was developed by Francine Shapiro in the late 1980s. (for information by Dr. Shapiro, click here) . It has since gained recognition as an effective therapeutic approach for trauma. It’s rooted in the belief that traumatic memories, can become “stuck” in the brain. They can be from combat exposure or personal struggles, they cause ongoing distress. EMDR seeks to unstick these memories and help healing.
The horror of the realities of ongoing conflicts in different parts of the world are seen by us every day. We are witness to a small part of what is happening. It is crucial to consider the psychological toll it takes on those affected. And, the impact on those indirectly affected. War trauma is a complex issue. It can lead to conditions like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). EMDR offers hope and has proven exceptionally effective in treating war veterans. It allows them to confront their traumatic experiences. Then regain control over their lives.
Traumatic memories are memories that are very upsetting. They come from a scary or painful event. They can be hard for some people to forget. They can become all consuming and dominate your thoughts.
The thoughts can make a person feel scared or sad when remembered. The memories can make it hard to feel happy or safe.
A few of the types of trauma memories are:
Accidents: Imagine you were in a car crash. After the crash, you might feel scared every time you get in a car. This can make your life complicated and lead to becoming isolated.
Violence: Some people have been hurt by others. It could be hitting, pushing or even worse. When something triggers the memory, it can make someone feel scared or angry.
Childhood memories/bullying: This can leave deep emotional scars that persist into adulthood.
Loss: If someone close to you died suddenly or unexpectedly. You might think about it and wonder if you could have made it different. The thoughts can be all consuming to you.
National Disasters: Big storms, earthquakes, floods or wild fires can be scary. For people who have lived through one of them, the memories can be debilitating.
EMDR can provide solace to those grappling with everyday traumas. Some of which are often dismissed or underestimated. EMDR can help individuals process these painful memories, fostering resilience and self-esteem.
The mechanics of EMDR are intriguing. EMDR stands for “Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing”. It involves reprocessing traumatic memories through bilateral stimulation. This is commonly achieved through side-to-side eye movements, tapping, or auditory cues. This mimics the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep. This is a natural process through which the brain heals itself.
If you are considering EMDR therapy, it’s essential to understand that the process. It involves several stages:
Here is an overview of the steps you and your counselor will go through before starting EMDR.
1. History Gathering: The therapist collects information about the traumatic experiences and personal history.
2. Preparation: You are equipped with coping strategies to manage distressing emotions during therapy.
3. Desensitization: Traumatic memories are targeted. They are processed through bilateral stimulation. This will allow you to reframe and integrate them.
4. Installation: Positive beliefs and emotions replace negative ones, promoting emotional healing and resilience.
5. Body Scan: Any remaining physical tension or distress is addressed.
6. Closure: The session closes with relaxation techniques. This ensures you leave in a calm state.
7. Reevaluation: More sessions may be scheduled to address any remaining issues.
EMDR uses something called “bilateral stimulation.” This is a big word, but not too hard to understand. “Bilateral” means “two sides”. Like our two hands or two feet. “Stimulation” means getting something moving or working. So, “bilateral stimulation” is making both sides of the brain work together.
In EMDR, the therapist uses this process to help both sides of your brain work or move together. This in turn, helps your brain access and process the memory or negative belief.
Bilateral stimulation acts with the parts of the brain. Think of your brain like a big library. Your library (brain) has many books. Some of the books are happy stories. Some of them are sad or scary. Hard memories are like books that are stuck or out of place.
Bilateral stimulation is like the librarian. It helps put those stuck books (memory or negative beliefs) where they belong. When the books are in the right place, they don’t bother you as much.
When both sides of the brain work together, it’s powerful. It can help to look at hard memories in a safer way. Bilateral stimulation helps both sides team up. Your brain will process or understand hard memories better. Think of EMDR as a special tool for the brain to sort through hard memories and make them less painful.
One is can be haunted by the horrors of war or the scars of childhood. EMDR stands as a versatile, evidence-based therapy offering a path to healing. It can help many people. It’s not just for adults. Kids and teens can benefit too. EMDR has the capacity to adapt If someone has a traumatic memory, EMDR can be a good way to help.
It’s capacity to adapt to the diverse spectrum of traumas faced shows it’s potential. From the global stage to personal struggles, hope and resilience is available. It’s a beacon of healing and restoration in a world marred by trauma.
For more information and resources check out:
NPR provides information about Oprah and Prince Harry and the documentary where he discusses EMDR as part of his healing process.
In this article, from the EMDRIA organization, you can read about How EMDR Therapy Can Help.
Pathways Counseling Services is the top-rated therapy and counseling service in Scottsdale, Arizona, year after year. We can help you in your EMDR journey of hope to live a happier and healthier life. We provide effective and supportive mental health care. You can reach us by phone at 480-235-1682
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