EMDR Therapy 101
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy, also known as EMDR Therapy, is a method of psychotherapy that has been proven effective in helping people process traumatic experiences leading to PTSD, anxiety, depression, and panic disorders.
EMDR Therapy was discovered by Dr. Francine Shapiro while taking a walk, suddenly noticing that her troublesome thoughts had disappeared, and she was not quite sure why. To figure out what made her upset feelings fade away, she began experimenting. She found that when she moved her eyes rapidly back and forth while thinking of something disturbing, the thoughts began to vanish. Upon that realization, she created a protocol that could be replicated and studied, which turned into what we know as EMDR therapy.
How does EMDR Therapy work?
From a neurological perspective, when we are triggered by a traumatic experience, the pre-frontal cortex has less control over the activated amygdala and hippocampus. Therefore, we become overwhelmed and cannot process things correctly. With that being the case, traumatic events are trapped in the amygdala-hippocampal complex and when triggered, may feel like they are occurring in present time. These “trapped” memories can be considered unprocessed memories.
Normal memories are processed during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. They do not become “trapped” and are moved out of the amygdala-hippocampal complex. Therefore, it is understood that what occurs during REM sleep is the same thing that one experiences during EMDR. During an EMDR therapy session, your therapist will have you focus on one specific memory and have you rapidly move your eyes back and forth, just like when you dream. This allows the over-stimulated amygdala to slow down and process these traumatic memories as you usually would with any others.
Who Can Benefit from It?
EMDR therapy is most commonly used for individuals who have suffered from traumatic events, but the Dallas Collective has gathered a list of other reasons why one might consider EMDR therapy.
- Single incident traumas (such as car accidents, destructive weather events, being robbed, etc.)
- Low self-esteem
- Relationship difficulties
- Domestic violence
- Performance enhancement (sports, music, etc.)
- Feeling stuck in life
- Childhood trauma
- Sexual assaults or physical assaults
- Social anxiety
- Feelings of rejection
- Trust issues/affairs
If you are already working with a therapist, it may be helpful to talk to them about your options. You could benefit from taking a break from a typical therapy session to give EMDR therapy a try.
We hope that this information on EMDR therapy is useful to you.
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Kayla is a graduate of Texas A&M University and joined the marketing team at Empower Brokerage in early 2021. She creates content for the company websites and assists with various marketing campaigns. LinkedIn Profile