Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, sometimes called EMDR therapy, is an evidence based psychotherapy. It has been effective in many types of psychological challenges, including post traumatic stress disorder (both acute and complex), as well as varied somatic challenges with chronic pain and recurrent physical issues. Also, above and beyond treating symptoms, EMDR therapy can be highly effective in improving self concept, and belief in one’s ability to make changes in life. In sum, it is a comprehensive therapy, which includes both diminishment of acute symptoms, but also improvement in one’s sense of self in the world.
Much of the way I introduce EMDR therapy is by helping clients understand how they store trauma in the body. More specifically, each person can often have a range of life experiences (including abuse, loss, or tragedy) that can be deeply negatively internalized within the body. These experiences can feel like “a second skin” in that responding to daily life feels traumatic (even when there may be no objective apparent stressor). EMDR therapy helps clients let go of those old bodily-stored experiences, and begin building up new more adaptive responses in their daily interactions. What is wonderful about this process, is that clients typically begin to feel a sense of hope and resilience in managing every day problems and situations, versus feelings powerless or “stuck”.
The self-awareness clients experience in these mind-body connections are what can take EMDR therapy to a higher level. In the most profound and meaningful, clients becoming “friendly” with their symptoms, rather than deeming them as destructive and unsolvable. Once this happens, deeper psychological change can take place.
For additional information that can help you understand a bit more about EMDR therapy, and how it is different than traditional therapy, please check out the following EMDR international association website: