Ever wish you could put a bandaid on past mental trauma, like a scraped knee on a child, and move along with the joys of life? Although it’s not that simple, there is a therapeutic technique that brings a lot more ease and simplicity into the process of healing from past trauma: EMDR.
This therapeutic approach manages to break down the healing process into three main steps. These steps have proven very effective in allowing people to genuinely heal trauma and adapt to new neural pathways, allowing for freedom from the triggers of past traumatic events.
So let’s break down a bit of the reasoning behind what occurs in a typical EMDR session, and talk about a few key components of a typical EMDR session/session series.
EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.
EMDR is a psychotherapy that can address and transform energetic responses to negative traumatic memory in 3 basic steps, also known as a “3 pronged protocol.”
So the 3 pronged protocol is essentially like a 3 pronged plug that plugs you into a circuit of neural electricity that zaps you into a different reality. That’s the metaphysical explanation. But in a more tangible reality, it consists of the following steps:
- Past events that are causing in-this-moment negative reactions are addressed and re-associated with new thoughts 2. The aspects of this new reality that are bringing up traumatic responses are identified and desensitized through shifted focus 3. New clips of a positively imagined future are built to help forge new pathways of positive functioning.
So what exactly does this consist of? Let’s go back to the band-aid analogy for a moment. EMDR shows that the mind can actually heal in much the same fashion as the body heals from a cut. If the cut is continuously irritated with an object or something festering in it, it cannot heal. But if you remove the block, healing can take place, and the body can close around the wound.
In terms of the mind and EMDR: The brain naturally moves toward mental health without blockages.
You could even say that it is not a process that needs a ton of work to begin, it simply needs the lack of whatever is blocking it’s natural occurrence. In this case, I would venture to say, the neural momentum of a traumatic response that keeps getting focused on over and over, could be an over-simplified explanation of a blockage to the natural path of healing.
So how exactly does the blockage get removed? You just pick it up and throw it in the river…or the woods… and then move your eyes bilaterally from tree to tree. Well, not exactly…
But this is sort of how EMDR originated (minus throwing anything in the river or woods.) It originated specifically from eye movements and their effect on one psychotherapist stress response, as she was walking through the forest (Check out our blog post on the power of nature for further info on that miraculously healing topic).
In the case of EMDR, removing the block looks something like this: the individual addresses traumatic experiences in small doses, while simultaneously focusing on an external stimulus such as directed eye movements, hand tapping, or audio stimulation.
The negative momentum is interrupted and redirected through new ideas of future visioning.
It is assisted healing and co-creation at it’s finest, in terms of medically proven methods for healing trauma.
And does it work? Absolutely. 30+ positive outcome studies have been shown in EMDR therapy. 100% of single trauma victims were freed from PTSD, and 77-100% of multiple trauma victims were freed from PTSD symptoms. So yes, it is very effective.
So If you or someone you know is ready to explore the power of EMDR, here are a few things to expect from your sessions:
- Information and history is gathered • image and stress reduction techniques are introduced • recalling of images, negative beliefs, related emotions is facilitated, while: • focus is attained on bilateral eye movements, taps, or tones • if distress is abundant, therapist helps guide you toward preferred neutral or positive momentum • you may be instructed to keep a log during the week for material to use in each session
So there you have it, EMDR: used among many therapists, psychologists, and treatment centers, including Oasis Recovery Center, with great results.
If you are struggling with addiction and the trauma surrounding it, and could benefit from treatment with an EMDR component, click here. If your loved one is suffering from addiction or alcoholism and could benefit from treatment with an EMDR component, click here.