We’re made to heal. When you cut your finger, in a matter of moments the blood clots, it begins to scab over, and with time, nothing is left but a scar. We don’t have to focus all of our energy on the wound, yelling “heal!” for it to mend – it just happens naturally. This same healing occurs with emotional wounds, usually with the help of time, self-care and the support of loved ones. The exception is when we get stuck in a fight, flight or freeze reaction due to unprocessed trauma. That’s when EMDR therapy (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) can help us to break free from this frozen emotional dynamic.
Since it’s discovery in 1987, there has been a wide array of research conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of EMDR. Initially used to treat PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) in the military population, we’ve since discovered is that it is also useful with eating disorders, panic attacks, performance anxiety, complicated grief, stress reduction, disturbing memories, addictions, phobias, pain disorders, and sexual and/or physical abuse.
As someone who actively uses EMDR with my clients, I would say that the most notable benefits of this approach are that emotional reactions soften and that clients find themselves acting in a more healthy and adaptive fashion. This last effect, a change in their behavioral response, happens so naturally that it could almost be missed – that’s why constant evaluation of the client’s progress is worked right into the protocol. Positive changes are noted and highlighted, increasing the client’s confidence and feelings of self-control.
Another strength is that EMDR addresses the negative self beliefs that accompany past painful events, such as “I’m unlikable” or “I can’t trust people.” Just as the therapy lessens the intensity of the feelings associated with past trauma – it also lessens the client’s conviction that these negative beliefs are true. The result is a more open state in which to find solutions for a more peaceful state of mind.
We are made to heal – but sometimes we may need to remove the barriers to that healing (just as a doctor would have to reset a broken bone to enable a proper result.) If you’d like to find out if you’re a candidate for EMDR, call 941-202-3350 or visit marciwise.com for more information.
Marci Wise, M.A., RMHCI, is a mental health counselor and motivational author who provides both couples counseling and individual psychotherapy to clients in the Fort Myers/Naples Florida areas – (941) 202-3350. Material is free to repost as long as proper credit is listed, including our website address.