“Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. EMDR is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches. To date, EMDR therapy has helped millions of people of all ages relieve many types of psychological stress." - EMDR International Association (EMDRIA)
Yael DiPlacido, LCSW is a member of EMDRIA, and is EMDRIA trained and approved therapist. She and has found to EMDR to be one of the more effective and gentle ways to help many of her clients today. Contact her @ 636-432-5001 to schedule your first EMDR session.
Explanation of EMDR
At certain times in our lives, difficult experiences happened. Some of those hard times felt overwhelming to us, whether because we weren't prepared to handle them (because we were too young) or we were just not at our best at the time, or because the event was really severe.
When we feel overwhelmed by difficult experiences, the brain’s ability of storing the memory of the event correctly is interrupted. Instead, all the information that went along with that hard experience – the thoughts, feelings, and body reactions – are not stored correctly in the brain and turn into an “unresolved memory”.
A memory that is not stored correctly in the part of the brain called the Hippocampus can become emotionally and physically unsettling to us. When new things happen to us that feel similar to the unresolved material, they can trigger the same emotions and sensations we felt during the troubling event. In other words, we feel now and react now, like we did back then, while the difficult experience was happening.
EMDR is a healing journey that happens in stages.
Preparation Stage/ Resourcing:
The preparation stage is called “Resourcing”. We start by creating or strengthening the ability to cope with uncomfortable reminders of the event/s – creating new internal resources that will make it easier and not so scary to approach the troubling memories. This helps manage and reduce the anxiety and other symptoms that may occur when we remember. Many people see reduction in nightmares and flashbacks as well, just by learning some of these skills.
History Taking Stage
Once new coping skills are established and inner resources are identified or created, we identify the unresolved memories that are tied to your current symptoms or discomfort. Then one by one, we revisit them from a safe distance, gaining another chance to understand and resolve them by the use of EMDR.
EMDR Processesing Stage
EMDR processing happens in two phases:
Phase 1: The therapist will assist you to think of a troubling memory, identify the worst moment, the negative beliefs about that moment, and the emotions and body sensations that are link to that moment.
Phase 2: The therapist will create bilateral stimulation of your brain while asking you to allow your mind to go with whatever happens and notice what happens. During this process, the distress associated with the memory begins to diminish. The process is repeated until there is no longer distress experiences when remembering the event.
What is Bilateral Stimulation?
Bilateral Stimulation refers to activation of the left and right sides of the brain. During the session, it could be achieved by moving your eyes from side to side (following the therapist’s finger or a moving light), listening to sounds that repeat from side to side, or by experience gentle tapping sensations on one side of the body and then the other.
Bilateral stimulation has been proven to enhance memory processing and reduce emotional and physical distress.
What Happens After EMDR?
After each memory is resolved, new experiences will not bring up the old reactions, and the memory of the event will no longer be as troubling. So, once we are done with EMDR, any uncomfortable feelings, negative thoughts, and even unwanted responses will probably get much better. Commonly, people report feeling “at peace” when remembering the old events. . You may even find out that more good things are true about you than you realized before. And the really good news is that this change can happen faster and more permanently, than if we just talk about it.
So with EMDR, instead of providing tools to deal with your problem, we will resolve the problem - the unresolved memories. As each memory is resolved, the unwanted emotions, negative beliefs and symptoms that go along with that memory often fade away.