Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), is a form of mind-body energy work used most extensively for trauma and abuse recovery, but has also been quite successful for other issues such as anxiety, depression, chronic pain, addiction, and low self-esteem/self-confidence.
Originally developed by Francine Shapiro, a clinical researcher, after noting that, following a walk she’d taken while thinking of her painful relationship with her father, she felt better. Being a clinical researcher, Shapiro was curious as to why this should be and dedicated the next several decades of her life researching the targeted effects of bilateral stimulation on resolving past traumas. Walking, by the way, is a mild form of bilateral stimulation. Shapiro found, through her research, however, that side to side eye movements, audial tones, and alternate vibrations felt on our hands or feet were much more effective, and more easily adapted to the therapeutic session.
When we experience something that is traumatic to us—in our own subjective processing—the memory of that event is stored in another part of the brain, away from the rest our own memories. Typically, memories are stored in the pre-frontal cortex of our brain; the part of our brain that also analyzes, is responsible for higher cognitive functioning, judgment, and impulse control.
Traumatic memories, on the other hand, are stored in the amydala, or “reptile brain,” along with the limbic system, or “emotion central.” This is not a place for judgment, analytical reason, or impulse control. This is why, when triggered by a reminder of a traumatic memory, we can feel “hijacked” by our brains into behaving irrationally—ration cannot, at that moment, be accessed.
The goal of EMDR therapy is to reprocess these distressing memories, by applying bilateral stimuli in the present, while recalling the traumatic event. The juxtaposition of the two creates, in essence, a “defrag” program” for your brain, refiling the memories where they properly belong, and thereby reducing lingering effects and actually transforming, in the process, negative self-beliefs related to the event to positive, affirming self-beliefs. It is quite possible, and the goal of every EMDR session, to reduce one’s distress about a particular memory to an absolute zero.
We, at OptimalLife Wellness Center, are pleased and excited to be able to offer this powerful and effective tool for trauma recovery for both our English and Spanish speaking clients.
My therapist introduced me to EMDR and thought that it would be a great option for me to work through some extremely traumatic memories. I was completely open to her suggestion, and jumped right in.
EMDR is not easy. It requires you to dig deep within and face painful memories. There were days when I dreaded the idea of another session. Days where I was unsure I could do it. EMDR requires you to trust yourself. Trust your inner vision and trust that you will heal.
No matter what I may have been going through, I pushed on. I wanted so passionately to heal, I was willing to do whatever I could to make it happen. With my therapist as my guide and support through many very emotional EMDR sessions, I was able to have a break through.
I now feel as though I walk with that memory within me, but it doesn’t tear at me the way it used to. I feel it, and I know it’s there, but somehow it feels settled. It’s as though the holds that my traumatic memories had on me no longer have power over my present life.
I am happier and more in tune with myself than I have ever been. I feel like, with the help of my therapist and EMDR, I was able to rise to a whole new level of healing. I was able to transcend the confines of the trauma I had experienced.
It was not an easy journey, but I am so grateful that I did it. It completely changed my life for the better.
I can still be me, but now it’s possible to relax.