Although scientists do not know for sure how EMDR works, it appears that the bi-lateral brain stimulation techniques used in EMDR have a specific effect on memory retrieval, encoding and storage. Specifically, the eye movements, tapping, etc. appear to stimulate the brain to process information in a way that is similar to that which occurs during REM sleep. This brain stimulation appears to facilitate and enhance information processing which allows negative experiences to be discharged from our nervous systems and our belief systems. EMDR is a structured 8 phase approach to psychotherapy that addresses past, present, and future aspects of any traumatic or distressing issues or memories. EMDR uses specific procedures to access existing information, introduce new information, facilitate processing and unblock areas of the brain that inhibit accessing and processing of stored memories. It incorporates elements of psychological, cognitive, psychodynamic, adaptive information processing, somatic, and humanistic approaches to therapy.
Why Choose EMDR?
In a broad sense EMDR is intended to alleviate suffering. Early and disturbing experiences, unmet interpersonal needs and traumas can have negative and long-lasting effects. Information, including negative beliefs about yourself that you develop early in life, can get locked in or trapped in your memory systems and can affect the way you see yourself and the world around you. EMDR helps your brain to process unresolved experiences/issues by making the appropriate cognitive and emotional connections while the information is being accessed. EMDR has the ability to facilitate profound therapeutic change in much less time than other traditional therapies and without the need to discuss issues in intimate detail.
What EMDR Can and Cannot Do...
EMDR can help your body to adaptively process somatic (bodily) distress and release the physiological pain that gets trapped within your nervous systems after a trauma occurs. It will not make you forget painful memories; however it can reduce the vividness and emotional intensity of those memories making you more able to tolerate them. EMDR may help immediately or it can take up to several (8-10) sessions before isses are resolved in this fashion. Many issues are complex and require attention to many specific details before they can be resolved.
What to Expect During the Process of EMDR...
During the processing phases of EMDR you will be asked to focus on the disturbing memory or issue. I will do either multiple brief ‘sets’ of eye movement or alternate hand-tapping. Following each set I will ask you what new information arose during the process. You do not have to share the details of your thoughts with me if you don’t want to. However, we will use this new material as the focus of our next set. During this activation phase you may re-experience aspects of the original event, which may retain high levels of sensory and emotional intensity, even though many years may have passed. I will ask you to observe them from a distance.
EMDR works directly with your memory networks and enhances your information processing by forging new associations between the distressing memory and your more current adaptive information contained within your current memory networks. It is thought that distressing memories are transformed when new connections are forged with more positive and realistic information. This results in the transformation of the emotional, sensory, and cognitive components of the memory; when the new memory is accessed the individual is less distressed. Instead he/she recalls the incident with a new perspective, possibly even new insight, and with the resolution of cognitive distortions, elimination of emotional distress, and relief from the previous physiological arousal.