EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, try saying that three times faster! This treatment modality has become popular when it comes to processing traumatic memories and events. EMDR was originally intended to treat combat PTSD, however clinicians quickly realized its powerful effects treating other conditions such as depression, anxiety, phobias, grief, self-esteem, other forms of trauma such as physical, emotional and/or sexual abuse, etc.
EMDR has been proven as an effective treatment modality, and has shown positive outcomes for most people after 6 to 12 sessions. You’re probably thinking a lot of other therapy modalities have been proven to be effective, so what are some of the benefits of EMDR?
Challenges maladaptive beliefs
Other therapy modalities such as CBT, cognitive-behavioral therapy, also challenge your negative cognitions. However, with EMDR we work on how someone has internalized external events and its effects. It is important to understand how a particular event has shaped the perception we have about ourselves as this usually propels trauma and gets us stuck in a self-destructive pattern.
Engages mind and body
Many therapy modalities do not address the effects of external events on your body or where you hold tension whenever you bring up a distressing memory from the past. In addition, many modalities simply address cognitions, thoughts, behaviors but completely forget about our somatic experiences. EMDR does. Clinician assists by doing a body scan every so often as a memory is being processed, in order to better understand where some of those memories resonate within your body. As your mind releases tension associated with the distressing memory, so does your body, this way you further deepen that mind-body connection.
Encourages the use of your imagination
Before processing distressing memories, your clinician will want to assist you with some resourcing techniques that can keep you grounded in the present moment. Many of these techniques require the use of our imagination, visualizing calming places where our mind can travel and find comfort especially when we are experiencing uncomfortable emotions that we may not know how to handle yet.
Helps us get unstuck
For the most part, we know what is best for us however there are times that despite knowing this we still make decisions that leave us perplexed and saying “I know better, but I keep doing (insert undesired behavior).” EMDR allows us to better understand what is keeping us stuck, many times the “block” happens outside of our awareness and it stems from a maladaptive belief we have developed over the years. With the help of some EMDR techniques, we can identify the maladaptive belief and change it to a more adaptive one that will result in change.
Increases relaxation skills
Nowadays, relaxation seems like a luxury but is important to instill relaxation techniques in the therapy room. While processing disturbing memories, clinicians will teach some relaxation and breathing techniques to help regulate emotions and sensations. For the most part when the session is over, you will experience that your body is relaxed and no longer holding tension. As difficult memories are processed together with a trained clinician, you will notice that relaxation skills will become more familiar and will become second nature (if practiced!).
To determine whether you are a good candidate for EMDR it is strongly recommended that you have a discussion with a trained clinician that can educate and explore what modality would be best and more beneficial depending on your individual needs and concerns. If this type of therapy is something that you are interested in you can always contact me at 954-378-5381 to make an appointment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be delighted to be of service.
My name is Maria Paz Garcia, and I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor serving people in Broward County. I was born in Peru and moved to the U.S when I was 17 years old. I’m a bilingual therapist who understands the struggles and changes that we have to overcome to adapt in a new culture and country. I’m passionate, down-to-earth, approachable, straight forward but most importantly understanding and caring.
I specialize in working with individuals struggling with substance abuse issues; difficulty establishing healthy relationships; identifying and placing boundaries; communication skills issues, assimilation and acculturation concerns; life transitions such as retirement, breakups; low-self-esteem and trauma.