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The Benefits of EMDR Psychotherapy

Why am I excited to be integrating EMDR into my practice?   
EMDR allows the client to access conscious and unconscious memories which are associated with negative cognitions/thoughts (E.g.,  I’m unlovable, I’m stupid, I’m a disappointment) and goes back to the origins of these in order to clear up both the (false) negative message/voice and the unpleasant feelings (e.g., sad, angry) associated with this memory.

As one client recently stated, EMDR should be called “Back to the Future.”  As we know, the past is the present, as unprocessed disturbing or negative memories continue to haunt us (our “baggage”) in our current triggers, relationships, body symptoms, beliefs, etc.

             “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”       ~  William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun.

What is EMDR?     Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is psychotherapy which guides the client in concentrating on a troubing memory (packed with emotion and negative thoughts) while moving the eyes rapidly back and forth (by following the therapist’s fingers).  Sometimes knee tapping is done, especially with earlier memories.

EMDR combines neuroscience (neuropathways), cognitive behavioural therapy, inner child, ego states (‘parts’ of us), depth, interpersonal and positive psychologies, and incorporates the healing nature of the psyche or brain’s system. The eye movements, REM (dream) like in nature, tap into rich unconscious material, both body and mind.

Over the months, I have witnessed some amazing changes in clients (and with my own EMDR sessions) with minimal sessions (2-6).  Pre-verbal memories have been accessed, body symptoms lessened, changes from ‘I’m a loser” to “I’m doing my best”; from “I’m messed up” to “I’m good enough.”  Clients rapidly make sense of the past, feel emotional relief and are more able to move forward with daily life and goals.

EMDR using a 3-pronged approach which deals with past memories, current triggers and future application of the learnings.

EMDR desensitizes the emotional charge or energy and reprocessesthe negative belief into a positive one.

It is a treatment modality recommended by the American Psychiatric Association, the Defense Department and the World Health Organization in treating trauma.

However, it’s effectiveness goes beyond trauma.

Symptoms that EMDR works with include:
trauma, anxiety, addictions, anger, guilt, low confidence, pain, grief  ….

Clients ‘target’ an issue to be addressed.  These can be:

  • Negative beliefs (e.g.,  “I’m not good enough.”  “It’s my fault.”)
  • What keeps bothering you?  {worst intrusive memory}
  • Certain situations (e.g., holidays, flying, social outings)
  • Perpetrators (e.g.,  Uncle Bob, swim coach)
  • Certain age  (e.g., age 10 (divorce, moved, sad)
  • What memory makes you the most angry?  are the worst?   {top 10 can be listed}

For futher information see below. Again  … these links mostly talk about EMDR and trauma, but ANY issue can be ‘targeted.’

EMDR founder Francine Shapiro talks about EMDR (8 m)

An NBC news feature on EMDR (3.5 m)

An article in which Shapiro answers questions on EMDR.

Lots of good EMDR Q & A in article format.

An in-depth audio Powerpoint talk by F. Shapiro (60 m)

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Diane Hancox, MA, CCC provides counselling services to Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Nanaimo and Vancouver Island.