Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

No, no, no! It’s starting again!

Do you feel overwhelmed and panicked… as though you don’t control your body or emotions?

Weary from the racing heart, the sweating, the nightmares… those images and memories you can’t keep out of your mind?

Have you started avoiding certain people, places, or situations where you feel as though you might lose control… maybe even shutting yourself up in your home?

All this… and you very well might not be aware of why it’s happening.

You might even wonder if there’s something seriously wrong with you.

But there actually is a reason, so, no, there’s nothing wrong with you. Here’s what’s happening:

Your body is protecting you.

I know it feels awful and intense so that might not make sense on its face, but let me explain.

If you have had an experience that overwhelmed your nervous system, we call that a traumatic experience. It may have been a series of experiences, like abuse, or a onetime experience like a car accident, or even your boss yelling at you.

The experience doesn’t have to be a “big” trauma like war – just an experience where you thought you didn’t control the situation and felt the terror. Yes, war veterans frequently have experiences like these, but no, you don’t have to have been in a war for your body to react this way.

Memories of it still come up, and you feel you are back in that scary situation. Or, something happens that reminds you of the experience. It could have happened months, years, or even decades ago, but the images are so vivid… you feel as if you’re reliving it. Of course, it’s tough to manage your thoughts, emotions, and body when this happens.

But it’s normal in that your body is still on high alert and trying to protect you. The body has built-in systems for making sure you stay alive, and one of those involves a lot of stress hormones. You may have heard of the “flight, fight, freeze response.” The stress hormones help you get away from (flight), fight off, or hide from (freeze) a threat. You have little control over this system once it is activated, and the bodily sensations it produces can be very intense.

There is hope.

Let’s talk about how therapy can help…

Therapy provides the safe, healing space you’ll need to understand your emotions and experiences better, and why your body reacts the way it does. You’ll learn specifically what about the past is getting in the way of your present enjoyment (or even just normal functioning). This understanding and knowledge go a long way in decreasing your fear and frustration.

When we work together, I will also provide the tools and skills to manage uncomfortable bodily sensations, images, and emotions. I will make sure you understand the bodily processes that are happening inside you. This understanding is vital for you to heal from this – knowledge can be power-right?

Once the alert system is activated, the chemical processes are out of your hands, but I will teach you ways to calm your nervous system; this will help you feel more in control because you will have more control. You will learn grounding activities that will keep you in the present rather than feeling like you are back in that terrible experience. The great thing is that once you learn them, these tools and skills will be available to you anytime and anywhere.

Aside from EMDR, I can bring cognitive-behavioral therapy aspects to help you understand and change some thinking patterns that might get in the way of you living your best life. I also use DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Training) in sessions. What is DBT? To sum it up, it is a very long name for “balance.” We want to work toward a balance between our rational/logical thinking and our emotional side.

EMDR is a special therapeutic tool that we’ll use…

EMDR can help you heal from painful experiences, so you can move on with your life. It results in faster recovery time compared to just talking about it. There isn’t much talking that happens when we process your past with EMDR. You don’t have to talk endlessly about all the painful details of your past.

Francine Shapiro discovered EMDR. One day she realized that back-and-forth eye movements helped her process some disturbing experiences she had experienced – and EMDR was born.

Brain scans show us that traumatic memories seem to get stuck in the right side of your brain, cut off from making connections to the left side of your brain.

Your left brain is responsible for language and your ability to make meaning of your experiences. The right side of the brain manages the emotions and images of an experience.

When a traumatic experience is cut off from the left side of your brain, it is often difficult to explain the experience with words, make sense of it, and realize that it is over and in the past.

EMDR helps you activate your normal information processing system in a way that talk therapy can’t. When that system is activated, your memory gets unstuck and fully processed. The right and left parts of the brain work together to reprocess the memory and related experiences. They can reduce the traumatic memory not to feel as upsetting anymore.

The traumatic memory gets appropriately filed away into your long-term memory – just like the rest of your non-distressing memories of the past.

EMDR initially consisted of back-and-forth eye movements, but now sounds (via headphones) and tapping (via a tapping device) can be used. I prefer using the tapping device as it helps me better tailor your experience to your needs. You will hold a tapper in each hand, and each one vibrates alternately – it feels like a cell phone vibration. No, there is no electrical current going into your body.

It requires a trusting therapeutic relationship for you to feel safe enough to look at your most painful experiences. We build that with each other, so we need to be a “good fit” to work together. It will also require your commitment to show up, do the work, and be patient with yourself during the process. I am there to help guide you through every step.

I start with teaching you methods to help you manage your thoughts, emotions, and feelings before processing any experiences to feel confident that you can keep yourself calm. We won’t “go there” until we both think you are ready. It can be intense work but so is continuing to relive experiences day to day, feeling re-traumatized by certain places, people, smells, and images without actually healing. As you become accustomed to this type of therapy, you will notice it becomes easier.

It doesn’t make you forget the memory; but if you think about it or if something reminds you of it, you don’t have as much emotional or bodily reaction. The result is that you have more control over your life.

It will be worth it to get your life back.

…and you don’t have to go through it alone. You’ve tried that, and it hasn’t really worked.

Imagine sleeping better again without the nightmares every night. You can feel more comfortable in your skin, stop avoiding certain places, people, or things because they remind you of unpleasant experiences. Stop having unwanted memories show up for no reason. You want therapy that includes EMDR.

During our 15-minute consultation call, I will ask you questions to see what you are looking for, and you can ask me questions, too. By the end of the call, you and I will know if working together makes sense for both of us, and we will schedule the first session.

Imagine what your life will look like after you have healed and gotten past these obstacles. Are you ready to feel better?

Let’s work on this together so you can get your life back.

Call today and let’s schedule your free 15-minute consultation: (720) 466-5667.