Assessment & Treatment
What is EMDR Used For?
Psychologist Dr. Francine Shapiro developed eye Movement, Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) in 1987. Since then, it has helped an estimated two million people of all ages relieve many types of psychological distress. Extensive research has proven the effectiveness of EMDR in the treatment of:
- Trauma, such as post traumatic stress (PTSD)
- Low self-esteem
- Relationship difficulties
- Worries about future events such as medical procedures
EMDR can also be used to enhance performance and creativity.
How Does EMDR Work?
EMDR is a mind-body therapy that incorporates directional movement of the eyes at specific stages in the process. Similar to the ‘rapid eye movements’ that occur during ‘REM’ sleep and dreaming, this activity works to "unlock" the nervous system and allows the brain to rapidly and gently reprocess disturbing events, seeing them in a new and more integrated way.
When a disturbing event happens, it can become “frozen” in the nervous system with the original visual images, sounds, negative thoughts, body sensations and emotions associated with it. This can happen with single traumatic events such as natural disasters, medical trauma, car accidents, military combat, and assault. However, it can also happen with stress repeated over time, for example when someone suffers verbal, sexual or emotional abuse or grows up witnessing addiction, illness or violence in the home.
To the brain, it doesn’t matter whether the disturbing event happened yesterday or 20 years ago, or whether it happened once or countless times: the past is still locked inside, frozen in time, and therefore, it feels as though the Past remains very much in the Present.
For this reason, EMDR therapy often brings relief from current symptoms such as anxiety, flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, somatic distress, and nightmares. After EMDR, you still remember that the event occurred, but it is no longer distressing. The event is now stored in the brain as something bad that happened in the past, but it does not have the power to upset you in the present. This is the “desensitization” aspect of EMDR.
The “reprocessing” aspect of EMDR allows you to let go of the negative thoughts and beliefs that can get stuck when you suffer a disturbing experience. These can be replaced with healthy, positive beliefs, resulting in an improved view of yourself and your life. In this way, EMDR has a deep impact not only in helping you to stop reliving the traumatic event, but also in reprocessing and letting go of destructive negative beliefs that got stuck along with it and continue to impact your present day experience.
Is EMDR Right for Me?
EMDR is an integrative approach that targets:
- Past disturbing experiences,
- current triggers for distress in the present, and
- future potential challenges to well-being.
If you are coming in for a single traumatic event such as a car accident, medical trauma or assault, EMDR can help to bring relief in several sessions. Similarly, if you want help with performance anxiety or creativity enhancement, EMDR can be a brief therapy.
If you have a history of repeated disturbing life events then EMDR is a longer term, comprehensive therapeutic approach. EMDR therapy can also be performed as an adjunctive treatment to your current psychotherapy. Your therapist can advise you on whether EMDR would be a helpful part of your treatment plan.
EMDR Therapy at GMH.
Dr. Kathryn Wright provides EMDR Therapy for adults. She was trained in 2004 by Dr. Francine Shapiro, the founder of EMDR, and maintains Certification through the EMDR International Association (EMDRIA), which requires continuing education in EMDR and trauma therapy every two years. She is also a Consultant-in-Training through EMDRIA, providing consultation to EMDR therapists for certification or general purposes.
Deborah Planting, L.P.A. completed EMDR training in 2017 and is working towards becoming Certified through EMDRIA. She provides EMDR Therapy for adults.
Kathryn Wright, Psy.D. Deborah Planting, L.P.A.