EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It was developed by Francine Shapiro and I was fortunate to learn the practice directly from her.
Why consider EMDR?
There are more than 30 studies demonstrating that EMDR dramatically speeds up healing. It is typically used as a way to process trauma, but can be used to desensitize other negative beliefs as well. There is also a protocol for smoking cessation.
What is EMDR?
The name sounds a bit intimidating, right? Really, it’s very simple. We start by gathering a bit of history to situate the negative belief that you are troubled by. Then we zero in on that belief. It’s usually something that you can’t even believe that you believe. Things like:
- I’m worthless
- I’m unlovable
- I’m weak and helpless
Once we have identified the negative belief, we start working on the counter-argument. What belief do you want to install. It might be something like:
- I’m worthy
- I’m lovable
- I’m strong and confident
I’ll give you some grounding and mindfulness techniques to use during and after the session and then we will proceed with eye movement or hand tapping. Most adults prefer eye movement.
Then, I lead you through a series of lateral eye movements while you move from desensitizing the negative belief and strengthening the positive one. You are fully awake and conscious through the whole process. This isn’t hypnosis.
How does EMDR work?
Our natural tendency is toward healing. But when we repeat negative stories about ourselves over and over again, we develop synaptic connections that grow stronger over time. Our negative thoughts become a habit and it takes effort to develop new, supportive habits. There are still some unanswered questions about exactly why EMDR works, but it appears that it mimics the processing and restoration that usually happens during deep (REM) sleep. When you are anxious or upset, you don’t sleep as well and you don’t get restorative sleep. The lateral eye movements of EMDR stimulate the right and left hemispheres of the brain and allow you to integrate new information and thereby develop new, positive habits.
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