EMDR Counseling: What is it?

By Kendra Penski on February 17, 2021 in Blog, Research, Science, Therapy

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Hands holding illustration of a brain to symbolize EMDR CounselingWhen you think of the word therapy what comes to mind? For most of us, we imagine what we have seen on television, the room with all the books on the shelves, laying or sitting on a couch, and the therapist asking many questions. What if I told you there was a new way to approach mental health with a technique called EMDR counseling? 

EMDR Counseling Explained

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. This theory was created by Francine Shapiro in 1987. She realized that many different experiences and situations happen to us that can get stuck in our brains, such as a car accident, childhood trauma, war, and combat trauma, and relational issues

When these events happen, sometimes the memories do not get processed and are stuck in the brain, such as sounds, pictures, sensations, and feelings of the time you had during that experience. When those events occur and are not processed this can lead to distorted conclusions about the self. For example, a woman arguing with her significant other and remembering an incident she had with her father when she was younger. This unprocessed memory when she was younger lead her to conclusions at an early age of “not being good enough” or “I am unworthy” when she has a conflict with other relationships. EMDR counseling bridges the gap between distorted conclusions about the self to “I am not good enough” or “I am unworthy” to “I am good enough” and “I am worthy”. Therefore, if this woman had processed that feeling sooner in her life, she wouldn’t feel as strongly or this way in her present self. 

What is EMDR Therapy and How Does it Work?

EMDR counseling seems to do this by stimulating the brain’s natural healing process that gets stuck. When memories are frozen or stuck, they can bother us at various times and in various settings, for example, school, work, places you go to in your everyday life. The brain has a difficult time processing this information on its own, but when combined with a therapist and the EMDR process, it can help stimulate the brain back to its natural healing process and bring everyday experiences back to normal. Once the event is processed, you will still remember the event or memory, but it will not have the same “colored lenses” or impact as it did before it was processed.

Does EMDR Work?

EMDR therapy is a relatively new approach to mental health, however, studies have shown significant improvement and treatment for unresolved and negative past traumas and memories. Research has also shown that people who have been in therapy before stated that EMDR counseling is a shorter and quicker therapeutic approach, as well as one that had successfully helped them feel an overall sense of worth and clarity in their lives.

To learn more about EMDR counseling and other therapy approaches, contact us today.

Reference: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy, 3rd Edition: By Dr. Francine Shapiro