Nancy is EMDR certified and is in the process of becoming an EMDR approved consultant. Nancy believes very strongly in EMDR and has experienced the healing effects for herself. EMDR is a therapy that has been around since 1989. It is a wonderful therapy with years of research backing up it’s effectiveness. EMDR is a treatment of choice, and Nancy’s treatment of choice, for healing trauma and grief. However, EMDR is very effective for almost all mental and emotional health issues whether they are simple or complex.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a form of psychotherapy. EMDR is based on the adaptive information processing model (AIP). The idea is, the way the body is designed to heal, as long as nothing interferes with the healing process, it is going to heal. The AIP model believes, mentally and emotionally we are designed towards healing as well, and as long as nothing interferes with the healing process, we are going to naturally move towards healing.
EMDR is a treatment of choice, and Nancy’s treatment of choice, for healing trauma and grief. However, EMDR is very effective for almost all mental and emotional health issues, whether they are simple or complex.
Typical memories are held as narrative memories in the part of the brain that perceives the past. These memories are typically faded, lack intense emotion, and may be fragmented, but we can usually recall the most important parts of the memory. Trauma memories are actually held differently in the brain and nervous system. Trauma memories are held as sensory memories in the part of the brain that perceives the present. This actually shows on brain scans! Trauma memories have become stuck in the limbic system and are not able to move to the part of the brain that perceives the past. When a person has typical PTSD symptom such as nightmares and flashbacks, it is actually the brain trying to resolve it. We experience these symptoms as distressing but it is actually the brain trying to resolve the traumatic information that has gotten stuck. It’s trying to heal.
In EMDR we target these “maladaptively stored” memories and activate the brain’s processing. AIP believes we are activating the same mechanism as in REM sleep. During REM sleep we are dreaming, releasing important chemicals and hormones, and the brain is processing information. REM sleep is an important time of healing for our bodies. In EMDR we activate this processing by using BLS (bi-lateral stimulation) which is just giving the brain a signal back and forth across hemispheres. Bi-lateral stimulation can be done visually through eye movements, auditorily by listening to headphones, or tactilely by gentle taps on the hands, or through tappers you hold in your hands that alternate small vibrations back and forth. Bi-lateral stimulation is not painful in any way. People have asked if it is “shock therapy” which it definitely is not. It is also not a form of hypnosis. Bi-lateral stimulation is a part of EMDR therapy.
As we target distressing memories and activate the brain’s processing center, the brain does what it is designed to do. The brain finishes processing distressing memories, fading them, desensitizing distressing emotions, sounds, and visual images, and actually moving these memories from the part of the brain that perceives the present to the part of the brain that perceives the past. This too shows on brain scans! Years of trauma and abuse can be reduced to faded memories of something that just happened in one’s life. It no longer defines you, your self-image, or your view of the world.
Treating PTSD with EMDR
An important note to military, first responders, and all others living with trauma. Please understand PTSD symptoms are not a statement about one’s strength, character or personality. PTSD develops out of the way the brain and nervous system deals with traumatic information. It is not your fault if you develop PTSD symptoms. PTSD symptoms are actually just a signal letting you know something needs your attention to heal. The same way a fever signals you that something in your body needs attention so it can heal. Traumatic memories and PTSD symptoms can and do heal. EMDR can and does greatly reduce and even eliminate PTSD symptoms. There is no doing trauma work without a certain level of distress but EMDR is the fastest trauma therapy available. It is endorsed by the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, World Health Organization, and the International Society for Traumatic Stress.
- Complex Trauma
- Substance Abuse