Elena Riedo, Psy.D.,CSAT,PSOTP
Certified Sex Addiction Therapist
COGMED -QUOTIENT Provider for Adult ADHD
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EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensetization and Reprocessing, is a method of therapy that utilizes the natural healing ability of your body to process disturbing memories using emotional neuronal networks rather than reasoning networks.
(For additional information on research literature on EMDR effectivness, please visit www.emdr.com)
If you are looking for therapy services, you are probably NOT looking for someone to help you get smarter or to help you find better solutions to problems merely through linear reasoning. If that was the case, you would have already solved problems through the help of friends, family and trusted confidants or by just finding a better strategy. The reason why logical solutions to emotional problems don’t work is because you cannot reason someone out of a position they were not reasoned into.
Let me explain: most of the time, your body routinely manages new information and experiences without you being aware of it. However, when something out of the ordinary occurs and you are traumatized by a traumatic event (e.g. car accident) or by being repeatedly subjected to distress (e.g. parental criticism, neglect, betrayal, relational trauma), your natural coping mechanism can become overloaded. This overloading can result in disturbing experiences remaining frozen in your brain in a “raw” and emotional form in a different part of the brain, the limbic system, different from the other parts of the brain that store memories as stories, through language. That is the reason why it is difficult to reason someone out of a position they were not reasoned into. Talking someone out of feeling scared, anxious or depressed usually does not work. This is because traumatic memories are stored in a different part of the brain as images and feeling states, not as language. Often the memory of the trauma is long forgotten, but the painful feelings of anxiety, panic, anger or despair are continually triggered in the present.
What is a session like? During an EMDR session, you will be asked specific questions about a particular disturbing memory without going in too much detail. Eye movements, similar to those during REM sleep will be recreated simply by asking you to watch the therapist’s fingers moving backwards and forwards across your visual field. With repeated sets of eye movements following a specific script, the disturbing memory tends to change in such a way that it loses its painful intensity and simply becomes a neutral memory of an event in the past. Other associated memories may also heal at the same time. This linking of related memories can lead to a dramatic and rapid improvement in many aspects of your life.
What can EMDR be used for ?
In addition to its use for the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress disorder, EMDR has been successfully used to treat: