EMDR, A Powerful Therapuetic Process
November 3, 2009 · Posted in Child Abuse, EMDR, Mental Health, Parenting, Therapy · Permalink

kh-brain-Vitruvian-Man-brain3Clinicians at Soho Parenting have been providing the therapuetic technique of EMDR for nearly a decade.  We are constantly awed by the results. EMDR is one of the most important discoveries in the field of psychotherapy in the last twenty years.  It is hard to describe EMDR without sounding like a “new age” nut, so first the results-and then the description of the process.

A two year old child who had seen the twin towers fall on 9/11 experienced intense tantrums ever time she heard sirens for weeks afterwards. Her mother was desperate to help her. The little girl came for EMDR, and after one session the tantrums stopped.

An adult man having trouble controlling his anger and sarcasm does EMDR in regards to losing his father when he was eight years old. In the EMDR therapy he discovers that he has been angry at himself for saying something to his dad before he died. His entire anger-ridden exterior melts and he reports two months later that he has not felt that constant agitation anymore. His wife expresses a gigantic change in their relationship.

A woman who had been in talk therapy for 15 years does EMDR for 10 sessions about childhood sexual abuse and finally feels forgiveness for herself and even for her father. She is able to move ahead in her life – opens a business, maintains a stable relationship – things she had not been able to do before.

Interested? EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is based on the knowledge that the two hemispheres in our brain have very different functions. Simply put, the left hemisphere is the logical, analytical, verbal part of the brain. The right hemishere governs our bodily processes like breathing, heart rate, and our “fight or flight” response –it is the more “emotional side” of the brain. When we experience something frightening or upsetting, our right brain goes into high gear and our left brain quiets down. So the experience is “held” in the right brain. Talking (left brain) about the experience can be helpful in understanding the narrative, but it does not release the emotions, bodily experiences and interpertiatons of the event that the right brain holds…still following?

EMDR makes a connection between your left and right brain by alternately sending a small signal to the right and left brain while focusing on the exact memory or feeling. You can listen to beeps on head phones or hold onto small pulsars that buzz alternately, right, left. It is a very targeted and specific protocol. As the session proceeds, the tangle of emotions, thoughts and sensations becomes untangled and integrated and the person experiences distinct relief.

Here is another way to understand it.  For those of you who run–often times when you go out for a jog there is something on your mind that you are chewing over – a fight with someone, a problem you need to solve, etc. You notice after your run that you feel better, that something felt figured out or you have even forgetten what you were obsessing about.  Endorphins are important, but think about running-left, right, left, right – feet hitting the ground. Alternating signals to the right and left brain. Something about that bilateral stimulation seems to help you resolve or move on from upsetting thoughts.

Those are the basic mechanics of EMDR. It is a well-researched, effective method for dealing with PTSD and trauma:

“The Department of Defense/Department of Veterans Affairs Practice Guidelines have placed EMDR in the highest category, recommended for all trauma populations at all times. In addition, the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies current treatment guidelines have designated EMDR as an effective treatment for PTSD (Foa, Keane, Friedman, & Cohen, 2009) as have the Departments of Health of both Northern Ireland and Israel (see below), which have indicated EMDR to be one of only two or three treatments of choice for trauma victims. The American Psychiatric Association Practice Guideline (2004) has stated that SSRI’s, CBT, and EMDR are recommended as first-line treatments of trauma.”

We can attest to undergoing EMDR ourselves and have practiced it for years.  It is a fast, useful and results-oriented therapy that has made a tremendous difference in many peoples lives.

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  1. g.s.
    November 4th, 2009 | 3:27 pm

    As someone who has undergone a series of EMDR sessions, I can attest to how remarkable it is. The progress I made in 2 months was amazing and completely change my life.

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