What is EMDR Therapy?
Over the years when I bring up the idea of doing EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) in therapy I sometimes get blank looks or just confusion around exactly what it is. The thought of trying a new type of therapy like EMDR can excite people or sometimes make them feel a little anxious. I get questions like What does it do? How does it work? Is it like hypnosis? Can EMDR done during a normal session? Here are some answers to these common questions:
1. What does it do?
EMDR helps people process through disturbing thoughts and traumatic experiences. It helps a client move through “stuck” memories that can happen during a trauma and allows them to process the memory in a way that is healthier for them.
2. How does it work?
EMDR has been around since 1989. It works by stimulating the brain (using tappers that you hold in both hands) which helps a person process through memories that have not been able to process through normally. A client connects to the images, body sensations, negative emotions and beliefs surrounding the memory they are processing which allows the brain to move towards a healthy resolution. EMDR is a phased therapy approach that has been shown to be effective in treating trauma, anxiety, panic and PTSD. I have also found it to be helpful in working with addictions, eating disorders and attachment work.
3. Is it like hypnosis?
EMDR is not like hypnosis. In EMDR a person is completely present during the session and conscious to their thoughts. During EMDR therapy, a person never goes into a trance like state or any sort of altered state of mind.
4. Can EMDR be done during a normal session?
Yes! EMDR can be done during a normal session. Sometimes it is helpful to do an elongated session depending on what you are processing but this is on a case by case basis.