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EMDR Therapy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is EMDR Therapy? 

 

EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is an evidence-based form of therapy that aids in the consolidation and processing of distressing memories, thoughts, phobias, or nightmares. These distressing thoughts are often dysfunctionally stored memories that become "stuck" because the brain is not able to process the sounds, emotions, images, or body sensations during an overwhelming experience. Naturally, our brains are inclined to adaptively store information, but sometimes, when we experience a traumatic incident or distressing event, our "information processing system" becomes impaired and the brain is not able to cope as it normally does. When this happens, the memory is stored in an unprocessed, maladaptive, and raw form. It is often also be caught in a state-specific form, meaning, when that memory network is later triggered, all or part of the traumatic reaction can occur again and again, often with the same degree of intensity. This can often feel like an over-reaction, interfering with the way we view the world, ourselves, and our relationships. The process of EMDR does not erase your memories; instead, it lessens the emotional response and reactivity connected with the memory. It allows you access to your inner strengths, skills, and resources.

Can EMDR Help Me? 

 

EMDR has had significant success in treating Post Traumatic Stress resulting from single-event traumas, however, people with the following conditions have also benefited from EMDR:

  • Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Phobias

  • Eating Disorders

  • Grief & Loss

  • Performance Anxiety

  • Body Dysmorphic Disorders

  • Chronic Pain

How Does Dual Attention Stimulation (or Bilateral Stimulation) Work?

 

Neuroscience is a new and rapidly growing field. Much is unknown about the nature of traumatic memory storage and how exactly EMDR affects change in the brain's hemispheres. However, these are some of the hypotheses regarding the role of eye-movements in EMDR: 

  • DAS taxes working memory: This interrupts your ability to focus on the disturbances associated with the traumatic event (van den Hout, et al., 2013)

  • Bi-lateral eye-movements mimics REM sleep: This facilitates communication across left and right hemispheres (Stickgold, 2002).

  • DAS rhythms stimulate the cerebellum and thalamus: Stimulation of the thalamo-cortical connections appears to enhance information processing throughout the brain (Bergmann, 2008).

  • DAS stimulates the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC): The ACC connects upper brain centers to lower brain centers which is associated with relief from flooding and re-experiencing symptoms of PTSD (Kaye, 2008).

  • DAS stimulates the orienting response: The orienting response is a reflex that draws your attention to new stimuli. The orienting response allows you to observe your current environment and determine that there is no current threat (Barrowcliff et al., 2004). The orienting response helps you perceive and integrate new information which can change emotionally loaded memories.

Yes, trauma changes the brain, but healing does, too.

In the words of Lavar Burton, "you don't have to take my word for it!" 

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