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Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR, is a method of therapy for dealing with unresolved trauma and distressing life events that often produce more rapid results than traditional talk therapy.

Frequently Asked Questions


what is EMDR?

EMDR is used to treat a variety of problems, including:

Anxiety and Depression

Fears

Sexual Abuse

Physical Abuse

Emotional Abuse

Adult Survivors of Childhood Abuse or Neglect

Adult Relationship Trauma

Betrayal Trauma

Unresolved Family of Origin Issues

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Disturbing Memories

Performance Anxiety

Unresolved Grief

Stress Management

EMDR can be beneficial for treating trauma associated with single, overwhelming life events or the more chronic, repetitive types of trauma that occur in our relationships, such as developmental, attachment, or betrayal trauma.

Although the exact neurobiological mechanisms associated with EMDR’s success are still being researched, it appears to tap into the healing power of your own body by helping the creative (right hemisphere) and analytical (left hemisphere) sides of the brain to communicate more effectively.

It does this by using bilateral stimulation, which is a fancy name for stimulation of the alternating sides of your brain. It’s kind of like helping you to rock back and forth between the right and left hemispheres of your brain. The bilateral stimulation results in release of the negative emotions and negative core beliefs that are attached to unresolved trauma.

EMDR can also result in a strengthening of positive emotions and empowering new core beliefs about yourself, others, and your world.

What is an Evidenced-Based Treatment?

EMDR is considered an evidence-based treatment. This means that there are research studies that show that treatments with EMDR result in a reduction or elimination of the traumatic emotion or memory.

What is the Feeling-State Addiction Protocol?

The Feeling-State Addiction Protocol (FSAP) for sex or pornography addiction is a newer form of EMDR that is based on the Feeling-State Theory of Addiction. This theory presumes that the onset of sex or pornography addiction begins with an event in which the sensations, emotions, thoughts, and behaviors result in a positive, pleasurable or intense experience that locks that experience in memory.

The feeling state associated with that memory becomes fixed and the addicted individual then attempts to replicate the intensity of that experience. The quest for the feeling state may operate at an unconscious level or become less obvious over time. FSAP is used to identify and disconnect the feeling state from the addictive behavior. FSAP is typically followed by traditional EMDR to help the individual reconnect the feeling state with more adaptive, healthier behaviors.

What is Attachment-Focused EMDR?

Attachment Focused-EMDR may be beneficial to those who have experienced chronic relational and attachment trauma. AF-EMDR includes methods to help integrate attachment repair in the course of EMDR. AF-EMDR utilizes advancements in understanding attachment, and addresses early attachment wounds, particularly those associated with abuse and neglect using the power of traditional EMDR and reparative visualization and imaginational interweaves.

Can EMDR be used in intensive treatment formats?

If you would like to learn more about how EMDR might be helpful to you, please contact us.


How Does EMDR Work?

Disturbing experiences are stored in the brain with all the sights, sounds, thoughts, and feelings that accompanied them. When you become very upset, your brain is unable to process the experience as it would normally.

The negative thoughts and feelings connected to the disturbing event become trapped in your nervous system. Since your brain cannot process these emotions, the experience and the associated feelings may be kept from conscious awareness. The distress, however, lives on in your nervous system and causes disturbances in your emotional functioning.

EMDR unlocks the negative memories and emotions stored in your nervous system and then helps your brain successfully process the experience so that the memory is re-experienced in a new, less distressing way. The memory remains, but the intense negative response is neutralized and anxiety and depression associated with the memory can heal.


What Is EMDR Therapy Like?

If you are used to more traditional therapies, EMDR may seem quite different. This is because it avoids the long, drawn out talk therapy approach that can inadvertently reinforce staying stuck on specific aspects of your trauma, and in doing so actually blocks the moving through and processing of traumatic memories.

If distressing thoughts, feelings, and body sensations arise, you will be directed to notice briefly and then allow the bilateral stimulation to move you on through it. You won’t need to spend a lot of time describing or trying to control your reactions. You will neither stuff your emotions nor be overwhelmed by them. Instead, they will simply transform as your brain and body work together toward your healing.


Is an Evidenced-Based Treatment?

EMDR is considered an evidence-based treatment. This means that there are research studies that show that treatments with EMDR result in a reduction or elimination of the traumatic emotion or memory.


What is the Feeling-State Addiction Protocol?

The Feeling-State Addiction Protocol (FSAP) for sex or pornography addiction is a new form of EMDR that is based on the Feeling-State Theory of Addiction. This theory presumes that the onset of sex or pornography addiction begins with an event in which the sensations, emotions, thoughts, and behaviors result in a positive, pleasurable or intense experience that locks that experience in memory.

The feeling state associated with that memory becomes fixed and the addicted individual then attempts to replicate the intensity of that experience. The quest for the feeling state may operate at an unconscious level or become less obvious over time. FSAP is used to identify and disconnect the feeling state from the addictive behavior. FSAP is typically followed by traditional EMDR to help the individual reconnect the feeling state with more adaptive, healthier behaviors.


What is Attachment-Focused EMDR?

Attachment Focused-EMDR may be beneficial to those who have experienced chronic relational and attachment trauma. AF-EMDR includes methods to help integrate attachment repair in the course of EMDR. AF-EMDR utilizes advancements in understanding attachment, and addresses early attachment wounds, particularly those associated with abuse and neglect using the power of traditional EMDR and reparative visualization and imaginational interweaves.


Can EMDR be used in intensive treatment formats?

Yes. Our clinicians are EMDR trained and do EMDR intensives or include EMDR as one of many techniques in an intensive. If you would like to learn more about how EMDR might be helpful to you, please contact us.