How does EMDR Work?

Can EMDR help me? How?

People often ask me, “Why can’t I just get over this? It happened so long ago!” The reason we can’t just move on is because of how the brain and body store memories. It’s not due to a personal weakness.

A trauma, or any disturbing event, big or small, becomes stuck in our memory network and nervous system.  During childhood, we are especially vulnerable to traumatic events. These memories get stored with the accompanying emotions, senses, and even the coping mechanisms you used at the time. Later in life, you can experience triggers and repetitive coping patterns. Understanding why you do what you do and where it comes from isn’t enough to break the patterns or interrupt the triggers. In order to break these patterns, and heal from this event, you need to reprocess the event and clear the trauma from your nervous system and/or body.

This is where EMDR comes in. During an EMDR session, you are asked a series of questions designed to activate the memory network while simultaneously engaging in bilateral eye movements. You are asked what the worst part of the memory was, what emotions you notice when you think of it, what negative beliefs about yourself go along with this memory, etc. This process taps into the unconscious part of the brain, where the disturbing event is stored, and bring the unconscious memories into conscious awareness, allowing us to reprocess the event in the present moment. Through this reprocessing, and with the use of the bilateral stimulation, your emotional reaction to the event becomes less triggering, your perception of yourself improves, and the trauma is cleared from the body.

I don’t have a major trauma. How can EMDR change my life?

EMDR isn’t solely for addressing trauma, although it is primarily designed for that purpose. You don’t necessarily need to have experienced major traumas like neglect, abuse, or assault to benefit from EMDR therapy and achieve lasting change. EMDR can effectively address issues from your past, present concerns, and future anxieties. Its therapeutic benefits cover a broad spectrum. Here are some examples of what EMDR can be effective for:

  • Healing abandonment wounds
  • Healings attachment trauma
  • Healing nervous system triggers like sensitivity to loud noises, tone of voice, and/or doors slamming
  • Healing childhood emotional neglect, physical, and sexual abuse and assault
  • Damage caused by having emotionally immature or unavailable parents
  • Anticipatory fears (too many to name)
  • Fears of flying, fears about confrontation and setting boundaries
  • Fears about never finding the “right one”
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear about a job interview
  • Fear of rejection
  • Perfectionism
  • Trauma from Addictions
  • Control issues
  • Feelings of powerlessness
  • Any negative belief about yourself Emdr can help change
  • I have to be perfect/ in control.
  • I am not good enough.
  • There’s something wrong with me.
  • I am responsible for making others happy.

EMDR offers limitless possibilities for healing.

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