EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is a form of therapy that helps people heal from trauma or other distressing life experiences. EMDR therapy has been extensively researched and has demonstrated effectiveness for trauma.
EMDR is based on a theory called Adaptive Information Processing, which means the brain processing information (sensory information such as sights and smells, cognitive information, emotions and body sensations) in an adaptive manner when all is relatively well. It “dumps” what is not needed and “files” what is helpful, typically under positive beliefs about ourselves such as “I am a good person” or “I belong.” (There is literally a list of these positive cognitions!) When we are overwhelmed during an event, the brain is not able to process all the information that comes in and some or all of that information becomes stored maladaptively. Extraneous information is “held” (such as a sound or smell, time of day) and everything gets “filed” under a negative belief such as “I am not safe”, “I am not good enough”, “I am defective” or “I cannot trust” (there are many others). All of this unprocessed information: sensory, emotional, cognitive is accessed rapidly in the present as a trigger and we react to a current event with the weight of the past. This tends to make us confused. "Why did I fly off the handle just now? That wasn’t a big deal, but I feel SO ANGRY? Why am I shaking with fear? I simply walked into this new friend’s home, I like her. This makes no sense….." It makes sense to your limbic system, the middle part of your brain in charge of reacting with your brain/body perceives a threat- the key word here is perceive. We react with "friend", flee, fight, freeze or dissociate. You get zero choice in this- it isn’t happening in your thinking part of the brain.
EMDR helps the brain/body through an 8-phase process do what it needed to do in the first place by using either eye movements (the EM part if it's name) to Desensitize the traumatic material and Reprocess it in a more adaptive manner. EMDRIA has more information and a video to fully explain this process and therapy.
In my practice I have seen clients move through painful traumatic memories in a safe, contained manner that they did not believe was possible. It is my preferred way of working with trauma.
For some presenting issues and some target memories, clients may wish to have longer sessions or to work in chunks of time. For this reason I offer intensive EMDR packages. Intensives are available to clients who are in therapy and stable and have identified with their therapist a specific EMDR goal they wish to target. I am trained in the Early Trauma/Pre-verbal Protocol.
Release of information with your primary therapist is required. Please contact me via phone or have your therapist contact me.
EMDR Therapists who have completed Basic Training with EMDRIA often wish for consultation. It's a lot of information to metabolize and practice! Consultation for Certification with me is available in person for those in the greater Richmond, VA area. Phone and video conferencing options are also available. Consultation for Certification is focused on fidelity to the model, improving confidence in skills, case presentation. The goal is to be able to dovetail your clinical/theoretical approach to therapy with EMDR while adhering to the 8 phases and 3 prongs Francine Shapiro created for us.