Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an integrative therapeutic modality originally designed to help people with histories of trauma access and process their memories in a healing manner. When a person experiences extreme distress, the brain is not able to process information normally, creating disturbances in how they function emotionally. For example, some people become hypervigilant and live in a constant state of heightened anxiety long after the threat has passed. The disordered processing can lead to or aggravate mental health disorders such as PTSD, dissociative disorders, depression, and anxiety. EMDR works to unlock patterns of destructive thinking and maladaptive coping behaviors and replace them with new ways of viewing and responding to traumatic memories and overwhelming emotions.
Clinicians have found that EMDR is not only effective for treating trauma, but a range of mental health disorders, including anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and substance abuse. By disrupting disordered thought patterns and encouraging mind-body wholeness, EMDR can lead to relief from somatic symptoms of emotional disturbances, increased self-esteem, and improved stability.
Desensitization and Reprocessing in Practice
The highly trained EMDR therapists available at Bridges to Recovery will assess you and your situation to identify if and when EMDR will be most helpful to you during your treatment. When indicated, they will then guide you in recalling a distressing memory while directing your eye movements to stimulate the brain. You won’t necessarily have to talk about the memory–which makes EMDR particularly inviting to some trauma survivors. The therapist checks in with you periodically to ask what you are experiencing in the present moment, both emotionally and physically. Slowly, your therapist will ask you to shift your focus to more constructive and empowering memories and beliefs. The combination of eye movements and dialogue desensitizes you to the trauma or disturbing thoughts as you recontextualize and process your experiences in new ways. EMDR can move you toward increased bodily awareness while learning to identify triggers and forming coping skills to deal with the traumatic memory, feelings of anxiety, and overwhelming emotions.
At Bridges to Recovery, we incorporate EMDR when clinically indicated into our thoughtfully designed, comprehensive treatment plans to address your individual needs. Using multiple modalities allows for interplay between therapeutic approaches, enhancing each other and augmenting results. Together, these treatments give you the tools necessary to create a more stable, fulfilling life.
Contact us if you or a loved one may benefit from EMDR. We are happy to answer any questions and tell you more about the Bridges to Recovery program.