Remembering traumatic memories and events often feel as bad as they did the first time you experienced the original memory or event. The fear of being triggered in the future becomes so debilitating and distressing that we alter our life in numerous ways to prevent being triggered. Unresolved traumatic memories and events disrupt all aspects of our life, including how we feel about our self, and how we view our self in the world.
From a somatic perspective psyche and soul already know how holistically heal embodied trauma. However, a primary purpose of the conscious ego is to protect us from harm by any means possible such as projection, denial, repression, suppression, and rationalization. When we get stuck in our stories and the conscious realm we are cut off from psyche’s truth, and from access to traumatic memory(s) or event(s) for processing and integration.
EMDR replicates this process in an awake state to transform negative belief patterns and painful memories. EMDR assists psyche in the process of rewiring the brain form a neurological perspective.
EMDR is a multi- stage, evidence-based treatment approach for trauma and post traumatic stress PTS. Extensive research found EMDR to be highly effective for a wide range of traumatic experiences and is a front line treatment for civilian and combat-related stress, PTSD, family of origin, childhood trauma, sexual trauma and natural disaster crisis.
EMDR is effective for any event in which someone was victimized or felt victimized. Any situation in which someone was helpless, or felt helpless, and any situation in which someone felt their life was threatened or in jeopardy. EMDR is highly effective for most trauma we experience. The event itself is secondary to the perception of the event. Everyone processes fear and trauma differently. What is important is how someone felt during the event, how they processed the event, and how the event affected negatively their life. EMDR is very powerful in healing trauma.
EMDR was developed by Francine Shapiro, Ph.D. and uses eye movements for bilateral processing stimulation (BLS). Tapping and music are effective as well, and are often used in conjunction with eye movements.
During each EMDR phase, bilateral stimulation is used to reinforce positive elements and process negative ones. BLS refers to a stimulus that is sensed on one side of the body at a time. BLS may be provided by a variety of stimuli. Hand-held tappers deliver a mild vibration to one hand at a time. Music, played through headphones to one ear at a time, may be used alone or in conjunction with tappers. Tapping on alternating knees or shoulders is another approach. And an object may be moved back and forth to create the same type of eye movements for which the treatment was named.
EMDR Consists of 3 Primary Phases
- Resourcing Phase consists of history gathering, core belief assessment, treatment planning and target planning, and actual resourcing through creation of a safe space and a safe container.
- Reprocessing Phase consists of the actual EMDR process to discover and dis-empower traumatic memories and dysfunction core belief patterns through desensitization and reprocessing so someone can remember the event(s) without being triggered or re-experiencing the event(s) from an emotional and/ or reactive perspective.
- Integration Phase consists of installation of these positive core belief patterns and memories, so they are embodied. This process allows for a rediscovery of one’s strengths and skills. Lastly, therapist inquiry and observation scan the body to complete the closure process.
- Dissociative disorders
- Emotional abuse
- Panic attacks
- Peak performance issues
- Performance anxiety
- Phantom limb pain
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
How EMDR works?
We experience traumatic events cognitively, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. When we can’t return to feeling safe after a traumatic experience certain aspect of the trauma get stuck in our body and central nervous system, because the event was too overwhelming to be processed at that time. Traditional cognitive-based behavioral talk therapies cannot go deep enough to penetrate the embodied trauma held deep within the unconscious
Unconscious trauma wounding cannot be healed through the conscious realm. Bilateral stimulation bypasses the conscious realm and allows access to traumatic experiences held deep within the unconscious psyche so they can be processed, integrated and dissipated. Traumatic experiences and events often make us feel stuck or lost.
For example in combat-related post traumatic stress the trauma experienced during war is not necessarily the primary issue. Often it is all the unresolved trauma experienced in childhood and one’s early youth that is primary. Unresolved trauma taken into the theater of war gets exasperated, which activates dormant unresolved trauma and then manifests into worse symptomatology.
EMDR helps us move past the denial that trauma exists so it can be processed. Once processed and integrated trauma begins to dissolve and dissipate. Bilateral processing mimics the way the brain processes issues during REM sleep, which is why it is considered a holistic treatment approach.