What is EMDR?

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EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a powerful and relatively new form of psychotherapy that is challenging everything we believe or have assumed about emotions and the nature of change. 

We do know from memory and brain research that painful or traumatic experiences are stored in a different part of the brain than pleasant or neutral ones. Normally, if we’re troubled by something, we think about it, talk about it, perhaps dream about it and eventually we are able to come to some sort of adaptive resolution (We find a way to come to terms with it in a healthy way, enabling us to put it behind us.) Something happens that interrupts this process when we experience a trauma or very painful event. Instead, the traumatic material gets *stuck* in the brain and remains in its original form, with the same thoughts, feelings, bodily sensation, smells and sounds. It’s as though it is sealed off from the healthy, functioning brain. That’s why it’s not uncommon for a person who’s had years of traditional talk therapy to find that they still hurt and haven’t changed as much as they had hoped. This is because the dysfunctionally stored material still has not been processed.

Where once it was accepted that psychotherapy often took years, depending on the nature of the problem (and even then outcomes were less than wonderful), therapists and clients are finding that problems that were resistant to years of psychotherapy are being resolved in a very short amount of time. Sometimes, within a few sessions. It is important to understand that EMDR is not merely a technique using eye movements, but a complex, integrative method that utilizes a very precise protocol. Nor is it a “miracle cure” as some have been led to believe. Most long term problems are not cured in three sessions, however treatment is generally much shorter than traditional talk therapies. 

EMDR has changed the face of psychotherapy and continues to do so. 

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