EMDR therapy is helpful to process ‘trauma and PTSD but can also be used for OCD, phobias and anxiety disorders. Often, when something traumatic happens, it seems to get locked in the nervous system with the original picture, sounds, thoughts, feelings, and so on. Since the experience is locked there, it continues to be triggered whenever a reminder comes up. It can be the basis for a lot of discomforts and sometimes a lot of negative emotions, such as fear and helplessness, that we can’t seem to control.
These are really the emotions connected with the old experience that are being triggered. The eye movements we use in EMDR seem to unlock the nervous system and allow your brain to process the experience. That
may be what is happening in REM, or dream, sleep: The eye movements may be involved in processing the unconscious material. The important thing to remember is that it is your own brain that will be doing the healing and that you are the one in control.
Maybe you’re noticing:
Confusion, difficulty concentrating.
Anger, irritability, mood swings.
Anxiety and fear.
Guilt, shame, self-blame.
Withdrawing from others.
Feeling sad or hopeless.
Feeling disconnected or numb.
EMDR in effect unfreezes the integrative capacity of your brain to process memories effectively. We do this by engaging both the left brain and the right brain (bilateral stimulation), which activates the brain’s information processing system to process unresolved traumatic experiences.
According to Robert Stickgold, Ph.D. at Harvard Medical School, “We believe that EMDR induces a fundamental change in brain circuitry similar to what happens in REM sleep — that allows the person undergoing treatment to more effectively process and incorporate traumatic memories into general association networks in the brain. This helps the individual integrate and understand the memories within the larger context of his or her life experience.” Think of it as combining your raw experience with wisdom that was unavailable at the time.
Trauma can be defined into two types, Big “T” and small “t” traumas. A “Big T” trauma is a single incident trauma or life changing event. A “Big T,” would be a single or series of severely traumatic experiences (e.g. war, rape and major accidents).
I specialize in small “t” traumas which are experiences that lessen a person’s self-confidence and affects a person’s ability to deal with life stressors. Small “t” traumas create a perpetual filter that narrow and limit your view of yourself and the world, which impedes your ability to live to your full potential and causes suffering.
Small “t” traumas are a series of traumatic or abusive events that occur over a period of time. Some examples of small “t” traumas include:
Childhood neglect and abuse
Verbal abuse from a close family member or authority figure
Domestic abuse or witnessing domestic abuse as a child
Most people have experienced small “t” traumas and probably do not think of these events as traumatic. However, these subtler and more complicated experiences can shape and unconsciously influence how you are in the world, oftentimes in disempowered ways. Small “t” traumas usually require more EMDR therapy sessions than Big “T” traumas.
Together we’ll discuss the possibility of using EMDR. We can discuss whether it’s appropriate, and how it can be part of our work together. The length of treatment will vary, depending on what you’re looking to resolve, your life circumstances, the extent of past trauma, your current psychological resources, etc. While EMDR is designed to speed up your ability to heal, it’s not a one-time treatment. But results may be somewhat more rapid than in conventional talk therapy. My clients and I continue to be amazed at how quickly change can occur with this technique.
EMDR therapy has many applications but the most documented is trauma. Other areas which have found success with with EMDR are performance enhancement, panic attacks, anxiety, phobias, addictions, stress reduction, complicated grief, stage fright, public speaking, and pain in general. We may use a modified version of the standard EMDR therapy protocol to treat these issues.
The number of EMDR sessions that an individual needs can vary depending on a number of factors, including the severity of their trauma, the complexity of their symptoms, and their individual response to treatment. In general, however, EMDR therapy is considered to be a time-limited treatment, meaning that it typically involves a set number of sessions.
The EMDR International Association (EMDRIA) recommends that clients receive a minimum of three EMDR sessions, but the actual number of sessions required may be higher. Research has shown that EMDR can be effective in as few as six to twelve sessions, but some individuals may require more sessions.
It’s also worth noting that EMDR therapy typically involves more than just the desensitization phase, where the traumatic memory is processed using bilateral stimulation. It also includes preparation, assessment, installation, and closure phases, which can take additional time. The length of each session can vary as well, but is typically around 60 to 90 minutes.
Ultimately, the number of EMDR sessions needed will depend on the individual’s unique circumstances and response to treatment. It’s important to work with a qualified mental health professional who is trained in EMDR to determine the appropriate number of sessions needed for your specific situation.
Disturbing events can be stored in the brain in an isolated memory network. This prevents learning from taking place. The old
material just keeps getting triggered over and over again. In another part of your brain, in a separate network, is most of the information you need to resolve it. It’s just prevented from linking
up to the old stuff. Once we start processing with EMDR, the two Separate target and adaptive networks. networks can link up. New information can come to mind and resolve the old problems.”
The exact mechanism by which EMDR works for trauma is not fully understood, but there are several theories that attempt to explain its effectiveness. One theory is that EMDR helps to stimulate the brain's natural healing processes. Traumatic experiences can overwhelm the brain's ability to process information in a normal way, leading to symptoms such as intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, and avoidance. By stimulating both hemispheres of the brain through the bilateral stimulation used in EMDR, the brain is thought to be able to process the traumatic memory more effectively and integrate it into a larger, less distressing narrative.
Beginning EMDR trauma therapy in Dallas, Texas will begin with preparing for the journey of working with a trained professional in EMDR. When you begin mapping your journey for EMDR therapy, it is important to ask yourself specific questions like:
What are the main problems you are coming into therapy in the first place?
What are you willing to do to help yourself through these issues?
What are some of emotional skills that you will need to prepare you for EMDR? How will you begin traveling through the roughest parts of your journey.
What are some of the issues from your past that you know will need to address in order to reach your goals? Are there parts of your past that you're afraid to acknowledge.
Completing EMDR is the process of utilizing our memories of trauma, hurt and pain and becoming stronger through reprocessing the experience.
If you feel like you would like an EMDR Session please make an appointment at Sauna Therapy a Dallas-based Mental Health Boutique.
Book a consultation with Paige Swanson, LPC-A, NCC, MA today and discover relief.