The therapist will ask a set of questions to access and activate the negative experience and the desired adaptive resolution. Using sets of rapid eye movement (or other forms of bilateral stimulation), the therapist will encourage you to “free associate” and allow your brain to work through the experience. Alternating between the sets of eye movements, you will give brief reports about what you are experiencing. Processing with EMDR will continue until the past experience changes to an adaptive present perspective.
With long standing issues, this process may take multiple sessions. Once we update the disturbing experiences, the therapist and you will work together to integrate these new insights and perspectives into your daily life.
The therapist will help you understand the dynamics of the presenting concerns and how to adaptively manage them. Afterwards, you and the therapist will develop an overall treatment plan to help accomplish your goals. Finally, the therapist will use EMDR, along with other therapy approaches, to accomplish your treatment goals.
EMDR, as with most therapy approaches, focuses on the individual’s present concerns. The EMDR approach believes past emotionally-charged experiences are overly influencing your present emotions, sensations, and thoughts about yourself. As an example: “Do you ever feel worthless although you know you are a worthwhile person?”
EMDR processing helps you break through the emotional blocks that are keeping you from living an adaptive, emotionally healthy life.
EMDR uses rapid sets of eye movements to help you update disturbing experiences, much like what occurs when we sleep. During sleep, we alternate between regular sleep and REM (rapid eye movement). This sleep pattern helps you process things that are troubling you.
EMDR replicates this sleep pattern by alternating between sets of eye movements and brief reports about what you are noticing. This alternating process helps you update your memories to a healthier present perspective.
Is it necessary to tell my therapist all the details about my problems for it to be processed?
No, it is not necessary to talk about all the details of your experiences.
Will I get emotional?
Yes, you may. Emotions and sensations may come up during processing; although, I will prepare you and help safely manage them. Once they are processed, they rarely come back!
Is EMDR like hypnosis?
No. During EMDR processing, you are present and fully in control.
Is EMDR a brief treatment?
EMDR, as with all treatment approaches, help accomplish your treatment goals.
The length of time that it takes is dependent upon the complexity of your problems.
Frequently, EMDR is only one of several treatment approaches used to help you reach your treatment goals.
EMDR focuses on the brain’s ability to constantly learn, taking past experiences, and updating them with present information.
Adaptive learning is constantly updating memory network systems.
Past emotionally-charged experiences often interfere with your updating process.
EMDR breaks through that interference and helps let go of the past and update your experiences to a healthier present perspective.
EMDR uses a set of procedures to organize your negative and positive feelings, emotions, and thoughts, and then uses bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements or alternating tapping, as the way to help you effectively work through those disturbing memories.