Why EMDR is Effective in Treating Trauma

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR, is a therapeutic protocol used in the treatment of mental and emotional trauma. It has been widely praised in the United States and is currently recognized as an effective mental health treatment by a number of national/international agencies including: American Psychiatric Association, the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, the World Health Organization and the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.

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.  Therapy sessions are focused on alleviating PTSD symptoms such as flashbacks, 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 childhood adversity such as emotional abuse/shaming and bullying. 

When trauma is experienced, there is a disruption in how the brain processes information. In a brain that has not experienced a traumatic event, processing systems digest information about what has been experienced and make appropriate connections. Those reactions to the event that are no longer useful, any emotions or physical sensations, are released.

However, when an individual experiences a traumatic event, this processing system is disrupted and the negative memories and emotions, as well as physical sensations and beliefs, are stored in the brain. These stored traumatic interpretations mingle with current events.  In a sense, the past feels like it is in the present.

The Benefit of EMDR Therapy

EMDR is an effective protocol to treat these unprocessed past memories that feel as though they are happening in the present. EMDR is able to decrease 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
  • Dissociative disorders
  • Disturbing memories
  • Phobias
  • Pain disorders
  • Performance anxiety
  • Stress reduction
  • Addictions
Here is a link to a video explaining more about EMDR therapy.

If you or a loved one believe you may benefit from EMDR, please contact me. I would be happy to discuss how this therapy approach might help.