Jennifer felt as though her insides had been shattered and glued back together with the wrong adhesive. No matter how hard she tried, she could not settle her nervous system. Jennifer felt afraid, on edge, and had difficulty sleeping. She was easily startled and sometimes had strong and sudden emotional outbursts. Her perception of herself as powerless and others as untrustworthy permeated her experience.
That’s how Jennifer described living with trauma during our third therapy session. Following EMDR, she reported that the memory felt less emotionally charged, her body felt calmer, and she viewed herself more positively. She felt able to engage in her life in a way she had not before.
Perhaps you too feel forever changed by your trauma history, or that you are very different from other people. Or, you may feel as though you are just moving through life or that your world lacks color and energy.
The effects of trauma may feel permanent, but they do not have to be. You can feel better. Sometimes insight into the reason for your disturbance is simply not enough to manage your symptoms. It still might be difficult to calm yourself or to change the way you think and feel. I believe that this is because trauma is an invisible injury that resides in both our mind and our body. Insight-oriented talk therapy and education about the effects of trauma are central to the process but I have learned that an effective approach must also target and release those disturbing symptoms that feel locked in your body.
What is EMDR?
EMDR is a trauma reprocessing therapy that often brings symptom relief more rapidly and effectively than other forms of therapy. Sometimes a traumatic memory is so overwhelming that it is not adequately processed by the brain. When that happens the memory can become trapped in your nervous system with all the negative thoughts, feelings and sensations of the original incident. EMDR uses bilateral stimulation (right/left eye movements or tactile stimulation) to activate opposite sides of the brain so that traumatic emotional experiences can be released and processed through. Following EMDR therapy, you may find that the traumatic incident has lost its emotional charge, that you are able to speak about it more easily, and that your body feels calmer and you feel generally more at ease.
How long will EMDR take?
That depends on the nature, type, and severity of your trauma you experienced. The effects of single traumatic episodes may improve in 6 to 10 EMDR sessions. Transforming complex trauma histories will require more sessions.
EMDR sounds like a gimmick – is there any research to show this works?
There is over 20 years of research to support the efficacy of EMDR as an empirically validated treatment for trauma. EMDR Therapy is endorsed by:
Department of Defense/Department of Veteran Affairs
International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies
American Psychiatric Association
American Psychological Association
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (HHS)
National Institute of Mental Health
World Health Organization
I’m still not sure – I have more questions about EMDR.
I would be happy to meet with you to answer your questions! Click here to contact me for a free consultation.