What is EMDR? How does it work and can it help me?
EMDR is short for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. EMDR is a type of therapy that works to reduce the negative impact of painful memories.
Over 20 controlled research studies indicate that EMDR is an effective treatment in reducing the negative impact of trauma and painful experiences.
EMDR helps the brain process negative experiences and file them in a manner that reduces distress. When an upsetting event occurs, the event is initially stored in short term memory. A unique feature of short term memory is that memories can be stored with the original thinking, feelings and body sensations that occurred during the event. Long term memories don’t appear to carry these “extras”. When short term memories are triggered, the original thinking, feelings, and body sensations can be triggered as well. Although an individual knows logically that the event occurred in the past, it can feel as though it’s happening again. Short term memory is like having files in our “inbox”. Ideally, we work through these memories and “file” the them in long term memory where we can access them with less distress. Sometimes, memories can get stuck in our “inbox” where they persistently prompt us to feel unsafe, unworthy, or incompetent even with an abundance of evidence to the contrary. The goal of EMDR is to encourage the brain to “refile” memories in a manner that is adaptive and helpful.
EMDR can be used to treat a variety of issues that are rooted in painful memories. Research indicates EMDR can be an effective treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression, Anxiety, low self esteem, and perfectionism.
Although EMDR is not suited for everyone, scheduling an appointment with a trained EMDR therapist can help you discover if EMDR is an option for you.
Written by: Ramona Perkins, LPC (Ramona is trained and certified in EMDR.)