Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an extremely effective, evidence-based treatment, that targets symptoms of trauma and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It was originally developed to help soldiers who suffered from "shell shock" and has been a widely recognized treatment modality with veterans.
EMDR uses a combination of therapy techniques that draw from neuroscience, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and mindfulness. With the use of bi-lateral stimulation (eye movements, hand-tapping, or tactile sensors.), EMDR appears to unlock the nervous system and allow the brain to reprocess disturbing memories. The dual focus—being in the present moment while calling up the disturbing memory—facilitates the brain in moving the disturbance from emotion intense areas of the brain to cognitive areas where it can be recalled with a much decreased level of disturbance.
In laymen's terms, EMDR takes the "emotional charge" out of traumatic memories and has been proven to decrease PTSD or trauma-related symptoms.
It is important to help clients first start with a mindfulness exercise - this can include a meditation or visual imagery exercise. The therapist will help guide you through a mindfulness exercise at the beginning of the session and also help you "close out" or regulate your nervous system at the end of the session.
In the bulk or middle of the session, the therapist will gently guide you through processing traumatic material and help you flush it out through your memory channels.
We draw from a variety of methods and have been extensively trained in EMDR, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Narrative Therapy, and mindfulness practices. Read our descriptions below for more information and what to expect.
Writing your own story can be a powerful tool for trauma recovery. So often when a trauma occurs, we develop harmful core thoughts about ourselves such as "I am not safe" or "I am worthless". The goal of this therapy format is to explore self-compassion, growth, and see a different view of the trauma from an objective lens. Through narrative therapy, we can work together to re-write your story from a victim's account to a survivor's tale.
It is very important that you leave the session feeling grounded, relaxed, and ready to take on the rest of your day. After processing trauma material, the therapist will help you "close out" and regulate your central nervous system. This is imperative in any trauma work you will do because it is training your body to self-regulate and restore. We also encourage and assign clients mini-homework assignments where they utilize mindfulness or meditation practices in their daily lives—something as simple as setting an alarm to take a deep breath, listening to a progressive muscle relaxation script before bedtime, or taking a brief 10-minute walk in the middle of their work day.