(Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences. Repeated studies show that by using EMDR people can experience the benefits of psychotherapy that once took years to make a difference. It is widely assumed that severe emotional pain requires a long time to heal. EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma. When you cut your hand, your body works to close the wound. If a foreign object or repeated injury irritates the wound, it festers and causes pain. Once the block is removed, healing resumes. EMDR therapy demonstrates that a similar sequence of events occurs with mental processes. The brain’s information processing system naturally moves toward mental health. If the system is blocked or imbalanced by the impact of a disturbing event, the emotional wound festers and can cause intense suffering. Once the block is removed, healing resumes. Using the detailed protocols and procedures learned in EMDR training sessions, clinicians help clients activate their natural healing processes.
It was in my training for E.M.D.R. that I learned that all of our negative thoughts, beliefs, feelings and behaviors come from either big or small Trauma, Distress or Stress in our lives.
The following information is the result of learning from my E.M.D.R. trainings combined with Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (C.B.T.) equation for behavior:
YOUR THOUGHTS = YOUR FEELINGS = YOUR BEHAVIORS
(The equation for behavior according to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)
YOUR THOUGHTS = YOUR REALITY!
All positive feelings and behaviors come from positive thoughts
that were created from some kind of positive experience in our lives,
All negative feelings and behaviors come from negative thoughts
that were created from the negative experiences in our lives.
SO, ALL OF OUR NEGATIVE
THOUGHTS, FEELINGS and BEHAVIORS
COME FROM THE NEGATIVE EXPERIENCES,
OR THE TRAUMA, DISTRESS OR STRESS IN OUR LIFE.
TRAUMA, DISTRESS AND STRESS
therefore, E.M.D.R. RELEASES
THE NEGATIVE THOUGHTS/BELIEFS AND NEGATIVE FEELINGS
BY RELEASING THE ORIGINAL DISTRESS OR TRAUMA
THAT CAUSED THEM IN THE FIRST PLACE!
AND, BECAUSE THE NEGATIVE THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS HAVE
BEEN TAKEN AWAY, THE NEGATIVE/DYSFUNCTIONAL
BEHAVIORS WILL ALSO GO AWAY!!!
Our thoughts, feelings, and consequent behaviors originate from our beliefs about ourselves and our place in the world. Our negative beliefs are caused by the various traumas that we experience throughout our lives, (be it the type of trauma referred to as “T”, the bigger traumas, or “t”, the lesser traumas). These negative beliefs feed our negative thoughts and feelings and result in our negative/dysfunctional behaviors. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) can “clear” these original traumas and neutralizes the negative beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors associated with the original trauma so they have no further negative impact on your life.
What is meant by “trauma”?
Webster’s Dictionary defines trauma as “a disordered psychic or behavioral state resulting from mental or emotional stress or physical injury”. When we think of trauma or of someone being traumatized, we usually think of the bigger forms of trauma that result from a major accident, disaster, or tragedy. This is the type of trauma that is referred to as “T”, or bigger, traumas. These forms of trauma are perceived as life threatening or able to effect one’s life dramatically. Some examples of events causing this type of trauma would be natural disasters, accidents, rape, witnessing violence, physical injury, physical, sexual and/or even emotional abuse, etc. These traumas can lead to debilitating symptoms such as nightmares, anxiety, fears, phobias, flashbacks,as well as difficulties at home and work, with extreme cases leading to clinically defined disorders such as PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), or other clinically defined anxiety or depressive disorders. Some examples of negative self-beliefs that develop from these traumas are, “I’m not safe in the world”, “I’m in danger”, “I’m going to die”, etc.
However, the majority of trauma we experience in our lives does not come from these larger, more dramatic events. Most of the trauma we all experience in our lives comes from the “t”, or smaller, more personalized traumatic events which are more insidious. These events, usually experienced in our childhood, have negatively altered our sense of self in some way, and influence how we feel about ourselves and how we interact in the world around us. These experiences caused us emotional pain, humiliation, or shame, giving us a lesser sense of self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-efficacy. Being chastised or judged unfairly by our caretakers, (no matter how well intentioned they may have been), being humiliated in the classroom, difficulties with peers, losses due to death or others moving away, chaotic family dynamics, divorce, abandonment issues, etc., can contribute to “t” traumas. Some examples of self-beliefs that develop from these “t” traumas are “I’m not deserving”, “I’m not lovable”, “I’m stupid”, “I’m not good enough”, etc.
What is E.M.D.R.?
The various traumas we experience throughout our lifetime become trapped in one side of thebrain while language is processed in the opposite side. Because the two sides of the brain do not effectively communicate with each other, talk therapies cannot effectively release the trauma. The bilateral stimulation used in E.M.D.R. “unlocks” the trauma and allows the mind and body to process the traumatic experience by connecting the two hemispheres of the brain and releasing the trauma through a free association process. E.M.D.R. stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.
It is believed that the process by which this occurs is similar to REM (Rapid Eye Movement), the deepest stage of our nightly sleep, which is believed to be effective in processing negative thoughts and emotions. However, with those larger traumas or traumas that persist over time, the R.E.M. system gets overloaded and is not able to process all of the traumatic material. This “overflow”gets stored in the subconscious and has a continued, negative effect on our beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
From Negative to Positive
As the traumatic information is processed by bilateral stimulation, the negative images, affect, and beliefs of your traumatic experiences disappear, while positive images, affectand beliefs become more vivid (letting go of the negative and filling up with the positive).As this information becomes fully processed, the client reaches a positive resolution and those “traumas” simply become memories, without the negative emotional “charge”.
If you are interested in finding out more about E.M.D.R., please look at the YouTube presentations listed below:
E.M.D.R. - 20/20 Report with Francine Shapiro (discoverer of E.M.D.R.)
E.M.D.R. (with William Zangwill)
E.M.D.R. - a documentary film
E.M.D.R. - Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing ()
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