What happens during an EMDR session?
Just as EMDR helps the brain process emotional information, the EMDR therapist helps the client in their healing process. It is a collaborative process to connect fragmented parts and to set free past trauma from the client’s nervous system.
Usually, after a few “intake sessions” that helps foster a therapeutic alliance, an EMDR session starts with guiding the client to pinpoint a problem that becomes the targeted topic of the treatment. As the thoughts and feelings come up, the therapist helps the client to release the negative beliefs and re-direct to attach with healthier beliefs. The process continues until the emotions are neutralized and the event is re-associated with positive thoughts and feelings about oneself, such as “I realize now that I am safe and good enough.”
EMDR’s basic belief is that we as people process new experiences and adjust accordingly, except when there is trauma. Not just big traumas like war or rape, but small traumas that keep us stuck and resisting/blocking a “rupture & repair” capacity for clarity and calmness.
I find EMDR to be a useful integrated technique that enables a considerable relief and improves one’s ability to observe and reflect. I am grateful that we as therapists can help patients symbolize, describe in images or metaphors what was recently unconscious and hidden.
EMDR supports and strengthens ongoing reparative and analytic work. It helps connect what was once disconnected. It is a technique with specific protocols that deliberately connects the mind/cognition, body-sensations, feelings [limbic system] to problem solve, like what dreams may do when we are asleep. It helps with acceptance instead of resignation. One may still be reminded of a traumatic past, but be strengthened with a resilient and optimistic self-concept instead of crippling terror.
Is EMDR Hypnosis?
No. During the EMDR session, the client is awake and alert and in control at all times. What is similar, is that hypnosis & EMDR both work with the unconscious mind, uncovering repressed thoughts and feelings.
Is there any discomfort involved in the EMDR process?
EMDR can induce stronger sensations or emotions during a session. It is perfectly normal and desirable, because EMDR works on negative feelings. Fortunately, the re-experiencing of these uncomfortable feelings is brief and ends when the process is completed.
How often would I need EMDR Therapy?
Typically, an EMDR session lasts from 60 to 90 minutes. The length of the session depends upon the nature and history of the problem and the degree of trauma. EMDR is most effective when used in conjunction with other modes of therapy. Your therapist will discuss a plan of treatment with you. Usually, several sessions are necessary for the therapist to evaluate whether or not EMDR is the appropriate choice of therapy.
We will not profess to know in advance the frequency or length of treatment. Individual attributes and traumatic circumstances has a strong influence of ones recovery.
EMDR treatment objectives
The short-term benefits of EMDR are simple — an fast relief of emotional distress of unresolved past trauma.
The long-term benefits of EMDR include the restitution of emotional functioning, stronger sense of personal power, satisfying relationships, calmness and clarity.
Who can be helped by EMDR?
People who have experienced or witnessed violence, disasters, crimes, sexual assault and other traumas, victims of crime and professionals such as police, emergency workers and firefighters; accident victims and anyone who has experienced a serious loss (such as the death of a close friend of family member, divorce, etc.)
EMDR is also very effective treatment for people suffering from phobias– performance anxiety and stage fright fear of flying, heights, driving, etc. EMDR can also be used to strengthen ones abilities like public speaking and exam taking.
How do I know if EMDR is right for me?
There are a number factors to consider when evaluating the appropriateness of EMDR. The discussions during your initial consultation session will help you both decide on the usefulness of EMDR.
In general though, you would be an excellent candidate for EMDR if you have:
- difficulty trusting people & poor self-image
- anxiety or panic
- frequent feelings of guilt or shame
- poor concentration, memory and lack motivation
- explosive or irrational anger
- trouble sleeping & nightmares
- serious relationship problems & fear of being alone
- stage fright or performance anxiety
- obsessive or compulsive behavior
- chronic feelings of detachment
- extreme, unexplainable fears
- depression or disturbing thoughts
- a history of abuse, or sexual abuse
- been the victim of a crime or serious accident
- witnessed a crime or serious accident
- been through a natural disaster
- ever experienced a traumatic event
For more info on EMDR go to www.emdria.org.