What is EMDR?
The name is a mouthful ⎯ and may sound a bit intimidating! EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, and it’s a truly amazing intervention. While EMDR often involves deep emotion, temporary discomfort, and much honesty and trust with tough topics, the extraordinarily positive results are always deemed “well worth the effort.” Many of my clients describe its effects as “magic,” and I agree that its effectiveness feels “magical” to me many times each week.
EMDR was developed in 1995 by Francine Shapiro, PhD, and has dramatically and positively impacted the lives of many thousands of people all over the world. In addition to the EMDR Institute in California, Dr. Shapiro created the Humanitarian Assistance Program (HAP) to provide EMDR training for therapists at non-profit organizations for a reduced fee and EMDR interventions at no charge for victims of natural disasters, wars, terrorism, etc.
In a nutshell, EMDR is a therapeutic intervention that effectively and efficiently eliminates the impacts of negative memory. While much remains undiscovered about brain function and trauma, we do know that when a person is very upset, the brain cannot process information like it ordinarily would, and one moment or a series of traumatic incidents may become ‘frozen’ in time. Such memories may have a lasting and negative impact that interferes with the way a person views the world and the ways they relate to others. EMDR provides an opportunity for the brain to ‘reprocess’ these traumatic memories in order to achieve or regain health and overall well-being.
While EMDR was initially used mainly for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, it can be easily incorporated into treatment for nearly any issue that clients bring to counseling, from depression and anxiety to relationship challenges, boundary-setting, and even performance-enhancement.
In addition to utilizing EMDR for trauma, I also find it to be incredibly beneficial for helping alleviate negative beliefs about oneself ⎯ and often those negative beliefs have been with us since very early childhood or middle school. For example, many children develop beliefs that they are somehow ‘responsible’ for their parents’ arguments or divorce or that they must be ‘perfect’ in order to be accepted and loved. Often, our brains even know these negative beliefs aren’t true...and, yet, we continue to operate out of these beliefs. EMDR essentially helps to ‘re-wire’ our brains and to replace these irrational, negative beliefs with more rational, positive beliefs ⎯ beliefs that are nearly always true and that always serve us better.
EMDR has become such an essential part of my daily practice of counseling that I describe my experiences of it this way:
Process. Strengthen. Shine.
Together, we Process the traumas and the negative beliefs.
Then, we Strengthen the positive beliefs ⎯ the beliefs that serve you and the world better.
This allows YOU to Shine.