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What is EMDR & Can it Help Me?


EMDR is a specific modality used in therapy and stands for Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing.  A very intuitive, non-intrusive & effective method in removing fear, (or any emotional disturbance), and disturbing body sensations associated with a stressful event.  This can include threats to our physical or emotional well being, such as accidents, war, crime or childhood humiliations, rejections, disappointments, bullying by peers, insensitive actions by authority figures and parental fights can be so disturbing they disrupt the brain’s information processing system. You may have cognitively processed an event, yet continue to feel emotional or physiological discomfort when it enters your awareness.  Specific details of this disturbing event are not required in order to benefit from the accelerated information processing that takes place during EMDR.


After creating a personalized “calming road map” for you, you identify the (past or present) stressful event, your beliefs & body sensations, and then follow my fingers with your eyes quickly back & forth for a series of passes, tailored to your needs .  During this eye movement, the brain’s natural healing takes place, making associations and neural connections needed to integrate and digest the disturbing memory.  What is useful is incorporated and what is useless is discarded.  Research shows this process mimics the same process and byproduct as REM (rapid eye movement) during our sleep.  REM processes survival information, consolidates memory & learning, improves problem solving, and replenishes our neurotransmitters.              


For more on EMDR and REM~


In EMDR therapy, the emphasis is on allowing the natural information processing system of the brain to make the internal connections needed to resolve the disturbance. So, the person only needs to focus briefly on the disturbing memory as the internal associations are made. The memory is then transferred from episodic memory, which holds the emotions, physical sensations and beliefs that were stored at the time of the original event, into semantic memory networks, where the person “digests” the experience so that the accurate personal meaning of the life event can be extracted and those negative reactions no longer exist.


  • Case example:  sample of responses from my client after each set of eye movements, target was a humiliating event with feelings of sadness, anxiety & shame:   “maybe I overthink,” “I want to live more in the moment,” “some things are out of my control,” “I need to relax and enjoy more,” and “I am deserving.”


  • Case example:  sample of responses from my client after each set of eye movements, target was a traumatic loss with feelings of panic & powerlessness:  “my chest is tight,” “want to punch him,” “I’m not afraid of him,” “he’s nobody,” “hate conflicts with my journey,” “Grandma (from heaven) will take care of him (smile!),” “she’s always on my side,” “I believe that,” “turned away from him towards Grandma,” “my breathing is open,” “my heart feels more open.”


EMDR as adjunct therapy:  If you currently have a primary therapist, EMDR can be added if you find that you are discussing something in therapy, but the incident or experience continues to feel disturbing/distressing; after discussing the issue with your therapist, you may understand the situation differently but you continue to feel emotional or physiological discomfort.  You would continue to work with your primary therapist on your goals.  Your history and established trust provides a particular comfort, and I rely heavily upon the established therapeutic relationship between you and your client as a resource for grounding & empowerment.  As you all know, sometimes we need a whole team in our corner!  Your work with me as the secondary therapist will help you to move past a particular hurdle in your life or in your therapy work.



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