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What is EMDR?

EMDR is a powerful treatment that facilitates the processing of unprocessed memories associated with emotional and psychological distress. It is an 8-step treatment that uses bilateral stimulation (either through eye movements, tapping or sounds) to process memories to completion so that they no longer possess the power to create disturbing symptoms. 


What are unprocessed memories?

Unprocessed memories are memories that are stored in the memory circuit of the brain in a way that is highly disturbing; with the thoughts, images and bodily sensations that were present at the time of the event still intact. Trauma is not defined by the magnitude of the event, but by how the memory is stored in the memory circuit. By contrast, processed memories seem to fade into the background and are not associated with much disturbance when recalled. EMDR facilitates the processing of traumatic memories so that when they are recalled, they do not possess the power to re-traumatize.

What types of problems can EMDR treat?

  • disturbing memories

  • PTSD

  • sexual abuse

  • physical abuse

  • complicated grief

  • performance anxiety

  • panic attacks

  • phobias

  • eating disorders

  • addiction

  • body dysmorphic disorder

  • neglect

How does EMDR work?

Nobody knows exactly how EMDR works because we don't have a clear enough understanding of the physiology of the brain. However, the Adaptive Information Processing model hypothesizes that the brain's innate ability to processes memories can be disrupted by a traumatic event, preventing the memory from being "digested". The bilateral stimulation used in EMDR is similar to eye movement in REM sleep, which is believed to be responsible for memory integration. 

What happens in an EMDR session?

In your first session we will take a thorough history and decide what memory to target for treatment. It is not necessary to talk at length about the memory, which is one of the advantages of EMDR. You will be asked to think of an image that best represents the memory and to identify a corresponding emotion and body sensation. With that in mind, the therapist performs a series of bilateral stimulations (usually eye movements). You will be asked to notice what comes up for you during the eye movement. You will be reminded not to discard anything that comes up or judge it as unimportant. The mind whispers, it does not shout. So it is important to value everything that comes to the surface. The eye movements are continued until negative feelings diminish and are replaced by positive feelings; for example, "I made the best decision at the time". It is common to experience heightened emotions while focusing on the trauma, but most people report a significant reduction in negative symptoms at the end of the session. 

I would be happy to discuss the technique with you further and answer any questions. 

Call or email​ for a free phone consultation at 917-563-4210.

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