Most of the time, your body routinely manages new information and experiences outside of your awareness. However, when something out of the ordinary occurs and you are traumatized by an overwhelming event (e.g. a car accident) or by being repeatedly subjected to distress (e.g. childhood neglect), your natural coping mechanism can become overloaded. This overloading can result in disturbing experiences remaining frozen in your brain or being "unprocessed".
Such unprocessed memories and feelings are stored in the limbic system of your brain in a "raw" and emotional form, rather than in a verbal “story” mode. This limbic system maintains traumatic memories in an isolated memory network that is associated with emotions and physical sensations, and which is disconnected from the brain’s cortex where we use language to store memories.
The limbic system’s traumatic memories can be continually triggered when you experience events similar to the difficult experiences you have been through. Often the memory itself is long forgotten, but the painful feelings such as anxiety, panic, anger or despair are continually triggered in the present.
Your ability to live in the present and learn from new experiences can therefore become inhibited. EMDR helps create the connections between your brain’s memory networks, enabling your brain to process the traumatic memory in a very natural way.
Who can benefit from EMDR?
EMDR can accelerate therapy by resolving the impact of your past traumas and allowing you to live more fully in the present. It is not, however, appropriate for everyone.
The process is rapid, and any disturbing experiences, if they occur, last for a comparatively short period of time. Nevertheless, you need to be aware of and willing to experience the strong feelings and disturbing thoughts which sometimes occur during sessions.
Will I remain in control and feel empowered?
This is not a form of hypnosis and you can stop the process at any time.
During EMDR treatment, you will remain in control, fully alert and wide-awake. Throughout the session, the therapist will support and facilitate your own self-healing and intervene as little as possible.
Reprocessing is usually experienced as something that happens spontaneously, and new connections and insights are felt to arise quite naturally from within. As a result, most people experience EMDR as being a natural and very empowering therapy. EMDR uses bi-lateral stimulation, negative cognitions, and positive cognitions in order to fulfill the treatment protocol.
Ask yourself: How do you feel about you? Do you have an uncomfortable memory you no longer wish to carry with you?
EMDR can be brief focused treatment or part of a longer psychotherapy program. EMDR sessions can last from 60 to 90 minutes in length.
What is an EMDR session like?
EMDR utilizes the natural healing ability of your body.