What is EMDR and how does it work?

What is EMDR and how does it work?

After EMDR

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR, is a type of therapy that helps people heal from trauma and disturbing events or life experiences using eye movements, taps, or sounds. The research over the past 20-30 years shows that it can be a very effective form of treatment for a range of issues, especially people dealing with current and past traumas and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Anxiety, depression, and other issues can also be treated with EMDR.

What many people like about the process is that it does not involve medications and is different from traditional talk therapy. Instead of mainly talking about all your problems or traumas and trying to make some sense of them, with EMDR you bring up the traumas and distressing events and allow your brain to reprocess them in whatever ways it needs to in order to heal. As a client, you are completely conscious and aware as you just allow your brain to do the healing, while the therapist guides the process.

That sounds good, but also a little strange. What’s really going on here…are you hypnotizing me?

No hypnosis here, and as I mentioned above, you will remain conscious and aware during the entire process. What many experts believe is happening in EMDR is that we are using a process the brain already uses at night during dream sleep and REM sleep to help us work through and process what happened during the day and in the past. What we notice in dream sleep and REM sleep, is that our eyes move back and forth while the brain is processing. You may have seen someone else’s eyes doing this while sleeping and wondered what was going on. This is the process that EMDR is imitating.

Okay, so how does this really work?

Have you ever had a moment where you thought something like, “I feel like a little kid again,” or “I feel like I am in high school”? Where did that come from? Most likely, something in the present connected you to that past (unless you really are a kid or in high school). You may even begin to act like you did as a child or a high school student and feel the things you felt at that time. Before you know it, you are remembering some of the events that occurred at that time. If the memories are negative or traumatic, you may start to have some of the same negative beliefs now that you had about yourself back then, like “I am so stupid,” or “I can’t get anything right,” or “I have no control”. You may also experience physical symptoms like you did back then. EMDR works by targeting the memories from the past causing these present reactions and feelings, and then helping resolve them in a more beneficial and healing way for you.

You may also like to think about it this way: When a distressing event or a trauma occurs, it gets stored in the brain just like you capture a moment when you take a picture. However, in addition to the picture, the sounds, thoughts, feelings (emotional and physical) all get recorded. That information, like a picture, can get locked or frozen in time. Now, whenever something that even remotely reminds you, consciously or unconsciously, of that event, you re-experience that event in the present to some degree. If the brain does not process the information and make it a part of your past, it will continue reacting to it as if it is still occurring today. This can happen in subtle ways such as negative thoughts, fatigue, irritability, depression or anxiety, or not-so-subtle ways, like flashbacks, nightmares, panic attacks, extreme reactions to others, debilitating fear or anxiety.

EMDR helps to “unfreeze” the memories in the past so the brain can reprocess through them in the present. This occurs in a safe environment with support and guidance from a therapist. The brain can then allow the memory to be an event in the past, just like other events in the past, but with less emotional intensity whenever it comes up. Subsequently, when those distressing memories are resolved and reprocessed, other things associated to that memory, like other memories, negative beliefs, fears, panic, and sometimes even physical symptoms, can also heal and change.

As a Christian, how does EMDR fit into my faith?

This is a very important question! At New Vision Counseling and Consulting we bring together biblical principles with cutting-edge counseling techniques so you can get the best treatment for you as a Christian.  EMDR seems to work because it taps into our God-given system and brain to heal. God created us in amazing and beautiful ways and we get to utilize those. In addition, all throughout Scripture God’s people use past stories and events to transform how they live in the present. How they related to those stories determined how they lived in the present. Reminding yourself and understanding who you are in Christ and who created you leads you to live a completely different life, with new thoughts, feelings, and beliefs!

Have you ever noticed that when you change your perspective or story about what is happening to you, you change? For instance, someone really hurt you by something they said and it really gets you down (if not downright angry). You stress about it, struggle with it, but then one day you come to a new understanding, either about yourself, the other person, or about God. With this new understanding comes new feelings, and with these new feelings you have new thoughts, and with these new thoughts you take new actions. From these changes you heal and get past the hurt and you transform. This is the very process that EMDR can help stimulate and encourage.

I believe EMDR helps you find new perspectives, and when you have a faith that is all about changing the way you view the world and people (i.e. love your enemies, love one another, forgive one another), you are able to experience dramatic breakthroughs through this process. EMDR may be able to help you change the way you see or relate to things so that you can live in greater freedom today! As the scripture in Galatians 5:1 exclaims, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.”

What if I am not a Christian, can I come to New Vision for EMDR?

Yes! We will honor and value you wherever you are at in regards to faith, and we will respect that. We will gladly provide EMDR and help you through what you are needing. We want you to experience the healing from your past traumas and difficulties. It is a blessing to be able to use this tool with so many people to help resolve trauma and other difficulties

What do I need to do in order to get started?

Give us a Call and get an appointment! When we meet at our first appointment we will determine if EMDR is right for you, because, first and foremost, we want to make sure that we provide the best treatment for you. EMDR, like any other therapy, is not a cure-all for everything and everyone, but it has shown thrown many studies over many years that it is effective. At the first session we will make a plan together and determine where to start your healing. Also, EMDR requires no homework! You do the therapy during the session (generally 45-50 minutes) and then continue it at the next session.

We look forward to helping you on your healing journey!
EMDR Therapist Ben Thompson
Written by:
Ben Thompson, LMFT

Ben Thompson is a Licensed Marital and Family Therapist who specializes in helping individuals and couples breakthrough their pasts so they can live more powerfully in the present and future.

He is trained in EMDR.

For more information about EMDR, go to emdria.org. If you would like to see the extensive research and studies on EMDR to their Resources link at https://www.emdria.org/page/emdrarticles.

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Andrew BrownAndrew Brown
11:05 06 Feb 24
Shawn called me directly and sought out a resolution with me for a recent poor experience I had. He showed genuine care and consideration over the phone, and demonstrated he truly cares about the clients that come here and wants everyone to get the help they need. That's how it needs to be in any place helping others in God. God bless.
Andy EatonAndy Eaton
21:00 11 Oct 23
I totally recommend Josh Rhoades. He's helped me overcome a lot of anxiety and work-related stress and the effects it's had on me this year. For any guys out there wondering if they should go to counseling, you should definitely give Josh and New Vision a try.
Mark VonFeldtMark VonFeldt
12:04 23 Aug 23
I admit I didn't think I needed counciling but when I hit a tough period in life. Caleb McKean at New Vison Counseling was extrodinary in helping me out and providing encourgement, prespective and confidence. In addition, it was great seeing Shawn McGuire who consitantly provided an uplifting personality that’s just contagious.
Elizabeth ProtzmanElizabeth Protzman
11:41 24 May 23
My husband and I just wrapped up counseling with Shawn. And if you told me 6 months ago our family would be how we are now, I would have been in total disbelief. Shawn’s approach to counseling is next level and took us to new places we never thought that we could experience freedom and he put a light on places we never knew were still dragging us down.My husband (before counseling) had past trauma that weighed him down so heavily that his negative self talk was taking over his mental life. He was completely unable to be social anywhere, see positivity in anything, and talked with a super meek voice because he didn’t see worth in himself. We thought that “this is just his personality”, but Shawn was able to uncover the trauma that was holding him back and helped him break free of it. He now speaks with a voice to be heard and even he engages in social situations!I went through a terrible health scare while we were going through sessions. My optometrist thought that I had a tumor or fluid build up in my skull. Shawn helped me navigate all of the feelings that I kept shoving down. On my second session of talking about this medical situation, we really got to the root of my stress and behavior in this situation and in life. I felt a ton of weight lifted off of me in that moment just by digging out every root in my heart that wasn’t welcome there. Later that day (a Thursday) I had my MRI scans and that Sunday I woke up headache/migraine free for the first time in four months. Monday I got the news that nothing was there. I truly believe that God did a healing work in that therapy session. A physical healing of my body and a spiritual healing of my mind.Through all of this Shawn was not only there for just our counseling sessions, but when I was going through all of the medical stuff he would check in and see how everything was going. He recommended for my husband to go to a camp that absolutely played a part in changing my husband’s life. And all that I’ve shared is only the surface of all of the healing we received. I would have to write a novel for the rest, lol.If you’re looking for healing and willing to show up and put in the work…Shawn will help you get there.
Steve RodriguezSteve Rodriguez
14:25 06 May 22
New Vision Counseling and Consulting saved my marriage as they helped and are helping me deal with my issues with depression and anxiety. I have been taught new methods of dealing with these issues and they are life saving. I have enjoyed my experience with Shawn Maguire, the best therapist I could ask for, and feel this place is a Godsend. I never thought therapy would work for me but I was wrong and wish I had come here sooner. Excited for what the future holds.

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