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Rooted Wisdom Counseling Service, LLC

What is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy?

EMDR is a form of therapy that uses a “three prong approach”- it addresses present concerns, future worries, and past hurts. Typically, EMDR is used with individuals who have experienced trauma or who have experienced negative events that shape their sense of self. Treatment focuses on negative beliefs that one might hold about themself as well as strong negative feelings one might have about themself or past, present, or future situations. EMDR practitioners believe that our brains have a natural tendency towards healing, so treatment utilizes a unique technique to enhance the healing process. 

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What to Expect From EMDR Therapy

At the beginning of therapy, you will talk with your therapist or counselor about your concerns and symptoms. You won’t necessarily have to explore all of the details about your traumatic experiences. Instead, your therapist or counselor will help you focus on related negative beliefs that you hold related to your past, present, and future experiences. You will then work together to determine which beliefs to target and replace with more positive, accurate beliefs about yourself and the world around you. You will also learn techniques to help you manage distressing memories and feelings. 

Your therapist will then guide you through a process known as desensitization. While keeping the memory of a painful or traumatic experience in mind, you will follow the therapist’s back-and-forth finger movements with your eyes. Alternatively, your therapist may have you hold onto “tappers” that buzz back and forth or tap back and forth on your legs or arms. The purpose of this technique is to replicate what happens in the brain during REM sleep, when our brains process information from the day. Research suggests that replicating this process helps the brain more easily organize and find relief from painful memories. Future sessions are devoted to reinforcing and strengthening positive feelings and beliefs until you get to a point where you can bring up painful memories without experiencing the negative beliefs, thoughts, or sensations that you once had.

How Does EMDR Help With Trauma?

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 you have experienced, including troubling events. 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. Alternatives to using rapid eye movements can also include using a Bilateral Stimulation tool such as “tappers” that one holds as they vibrate back and forth, “manual” bilateral stimulation through one’s own alternate tapping on both sides of the body, or the use of alternating sound frequencies in each ear. 

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My approach to therapy is simple. You are an individual and unique and your therapy should be too. Together, we will work to find the treatment or blend of treatments that suit your needs best.

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