What is EMDR? Using Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy in Counselling
Updated: Feb 23
A few days ago I finished my training in EMDR therapy as a counsellor in Vancouver, and I was just too excited about what I learnt not to share it with you!
There are many psychotherapies out there, and one that continues to uphold its “greatness” is EMDR therapy.
What is EMDR?
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (or EMDR) therapy is an integrative approach to psychotherapy focused on healing traumatic or distressing experiences.¹
EMDR helps your brain reprocess or unblock the emotional disturbance from traumatic or distressing experiences by using bilateral stimulation.
Bilateral stimulation, typically done through side-to-side eye movements, tapping or sounds, is understood to help tidy up and put together again (aka reprocess) the fragments of a traumatic experience. This does not mean that the memory itself will disappear, rather the emotional disturbance associated with the memory will dissolve, leaving you with a fact of the past. The bilateral stimulation essentially helps reconsolidate the memory; it taxes your working memory whereby shifting the dysfunctional material to functional material in your brain. This means that as a client you do not need to "talk through" the traumatic or distressing experience as much as you would in other therapy contexts, but rather let your brain do the processing for you.
In this therapy, processing means "setting up a learning state that will allow experiences that are causing problems to be "digested" and stored appropriately in your brain. What is useful and helpful to you from an experience will be learned, and stored with appropriate emotions in your brain, and be able to guide you in positive ways in the future, while the unhelpful emotions, beliefs, and body sensations will be discarded"². EMDR is likes the digestion of food, where the healthy nutrients are kept to make you stronger and the unhealthy nutrients are expelled. And so, in doing the processing, the emotional disturbance from traumatic or distressing experiences will be less intense (or desensitized).
What is EMDR Therapy Good For?
This therapy has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma and many other mental health challenges. To date, EMDR therapy has helped millions of people of all ages relieve many types of psychological stress.¹
EMDR is used to treat anxiety, guilt, anger, depression, panic, sleep disturbance, and flashbacks that are the result of big T or small t traumas. Because traumas are determined subjectively, this psychotherapy can help many different kinds of mental health challenges. Its associative process also helps unlock other events or memories that are part of the same channel of association. Your brain is a web of emotions, beliefs, and body sensations, all of which may have been associated together in some helpful and unhelpful way. EMDR helps to untangle this web where necessary, and empowers individuals to resume living their Truth.
If you’re curious to know if EMDR is right for you message me so we can have a chat.