EMDR Therapy can help put the past behind you.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. A big part of EMDR therapy is noticing body sensations connected to certain thoughts, beliefs, or memories. As a culture, we often make the mistake of thinking that our emotions come from our brains, but anyone who has experienced immense sadness, fear, or joy knows that this experience is in the body. Experiencing EMDR allows clients to go from intense body sensations around a traumatic memory, to feeling almost nothing in their body when they think of that memory. Sometimes clients even experience positive body sensations - feeling pride, empowerment, or connection when they think of reprocessed memories.
How Does EMDR Therapy Work?
Difficult experiences happen to all of us. Some of those hard times can feel overwhelming to us, whether because: we weren't prepared to handle them (like when we were children), or we were just not at our best at the time, or because the thing was really severe. Because we felt overwhelmed when the difficult experience happened, our brain was “flooded”. When this happens our brains do not do a good job of making and storing a memory that explained exactly what happened and why. (This happens due to our body's natural "fight/flight/freeze" system. There are real physical changes that happen in the brain and body that prevent "normal" brain functioning. Instead, all the information that went along with that hard experience – the thoughts, feelings, and body reactions - were stored in an "unresolved" memory. The problem with an unresolved memory is, that it is not stored correctly. All the hard parts of what happened are all mixed up, so our minds try but are not able to feel settled. When new things happen to us, that feel similar to the unresolved material, they can trigger all that old confusion. When this happens, old thoughts, feelings, and body reactions rise up again. We feel now and react now, like we did back then, while the difficult experience was happening.
EMDR is a healing journey. With EMDR, we search out the unresolved memories that are tied to your current symptoms or discomfort. Then one by one, we revisit them and have another chance to understand them and resolve them. We do this, not only by "talking" about it, but by tending to body sensations, negative beliefs that were formed, and "storing the memory in a safe environment (in our peaceful office where your brain and body are no longer in "fight/flight/freeze" mode. We are prepared and it is not overwhelming. After each memory is resolved, any new experiences that happen now will not cause that old stuff to come back up from the past. So, once we are done with EMDR, any uncomfortable feelings, negative thoughts about yourself, and even unwanted responses will get much better. You may even find out that more good things are true about you than you realized before. And the really good news is that this change can happen better, meaning faster and more permanently, than if we just talk about it.