I began my career in counseling working with extremely traumatized children. It was during these early years that I became fascinated with trauma treatment, and knew I wanted to make this a focus within my practice. Wanting to learn as much as I could about trauma, I attended (and still attend) countless trainings and seminars on the topic. I even went back to graduate school, attending a two semester course through the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee: Trauma Counseling I and II. It was at this time that I learned about EMDR. EMDR wasn’t new at the time, but few practitioners were actually using it in their practices. I will admit, I thought it was a little weird at first. But the more I learned about it, the more I began to realize how incredibly powerful EMDR can be at truly healing clients emotional scars. It was much more than finding ways to manage symptoms, it could actually heal a person, helping where traditional therapy methods fell short. So weird or not, I was in. I enrolled in the EMDR level I and II training through the EMDR Institute and have been using it successfully ever since.
EMDR is more than just treatment for trauma. It can help with anxiety, depression, OCD, panic attacks and a multitude of other emotional disturbances. Because many people really do not understand EMDR, I thought I would explain it a little more in depth here.
A Brief Explanation of EMDR
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR, is a therapeutic protocol used in the treatment of mental and emotional trauma. It has been widely researched and praised in the United States and is currently used by agencies such as the American Psychiatric Association, the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs and a number of other organizations.
Those suffering from PTSD caused by major traumas such as sexual or physical assault, combat experiences, accidents or the sudden death of a loved can benefit from EMDR therapy. Sessions work to alleviate PTSD symptoms like flashbacks and nightmares, angry outbursts, difficulties sleeping and concentrating, and feelings of depression and isolation.
Recent research has pointed to the fact that PTSD can also result from less dramatic life events, such as hurtful experiences during childhood. In some cases, these can cause even more symptoms of PTSD than major traumas like combat or terrorist attacks. EMDR can help process through emotional distress that is causing negative symptoms such as anxiety or depression.
In either case, once trauma has been experienced, there is a disruption in how the brain processes information. In a ‘normal’ brain that has not experienced a shocking event, processing systems digest information about what has been experienced and make appropriate connections. So the reactions to the event that are no longer useful, and any associated emotions or physical sensations, are then released.
However, when an individual experiences a traumatic event, this processing system is disrupted and the negative memories and emotions, as well as any physical sensations and beliefs, are stored in the brain. These stored traumatic interpretations mingle with current events to color them negatively. In short, the past becomes the present.
The Benefit of EMDR Therapy
EMDR can be very effective in treating these unprocessed past memories that are poisoning the present. EMDR is able to remove the anxiety, fear and sadness that cause individuals to avoid or overreact to situations. EMDR techniques allow individuals to identify early memories that are the root of their problems and change their emotions, thoughts, and even physical sensations surrounding them. These same techniques can also help people achieve desired goals by understanding why they do what they do and how they can manage life and their own behaviors better.
EMDR is used to treat a variety of issues including:
- Panic attacks
- Complicated grief
- Panic Attacks
- Dissociative disorders
- Disturbing memories
- Pain disorders
- Performance anxiety
- Stress reduction
- Sexual and/or Physical abuse
- Emotional and/or Verbal abuse
- Body dysmorphic disorders
- Personality Disorders
If you or a loved one are wondering if you could benefit from EMDR, please contact me for a free 15 minute consultation. You can either call my office at 941-962-6300 or use the form on the right side of this page to send me a message. I’d be happy to discuss if EMDR therapy may be a good fit for you.