What is EMDR Therapy?
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. Through sets of standardized protocols, an EMDR therapist helps the client recover from past causes of emotional distress and discomfort. Events happen in our lives and we’re often unequipped with how to easily recover from them. EMDR leads you smoothly to this recovery.
Although EMDR is most well known for processing eye movements, Flick Connection starts with using hand pulsars as a way of connecting to the unconscious mind. The vast majority of clients find the hand pulses, or “taps” easy to follow and more comfortable than eye movements. Following these taps, while integrating experiences and imagery discussed in session, will lead the client to clear the negative event from their mind. Clients often describe the work as “erasing the negative memory.” The trauma is still remembered and understood, but the crippling intensity of it has been erased. This allows the client to move on and enjoy a more fulfilling life, free of worry.
What Kind of Problems Does EMDR Treat?
- Depression, Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Complicated Grief
- Acute and Chronic PTSD, Phobias, Pain Disorders, Performance Anxiety
- Sexual and Physical Abuse, Body Dysmorphic Disorders, and cravings associated with Addiction.
EMDR is also briefly explained by understanding the two human memory networks. We all have two separate memory networks: adaptive and non-adaptive. Adaptive memories are used to react to current circumstances. For example, if you’re riding a bike and nearly miss an accident with a car you may slam on the brakes, and turn your head away from the danger in order to protect yourself. Your body does this naturally by way of a startle reflex reaction. After the event is over, the memory of the event usually gets stored in your non-adaptive memory.
Problems begin when this type of experience gets stored in your adaptive memory. These “trapped” memories cause adverse responses that no longer fit a given situation. You may begin to find it difficult to ride your bike without fear, but unsure of why you feel as you do. So instead of only reacting to the current event (bike riding), your mind and body are reacting to the current event plus all the unconsciously remembered events from the previous accident. EMDR takes the negative experiences trapped in our adaptive memory and shifts them over to non-adaptive memory–giving a noticeably felt relief to the client. And most exciting, is that this type of relief usually begins in the first or second session. Clients are amazed at how quickly relief is noticed.
Tommy has extensive training in EMDR and regularly uses the EMDR protocol for teenage and adult clients. He is trained by Andrew M. Leeds Ph.D. at the Sonoma Psychotherapy Training Institute. Tommy is also trained in attachment-focused EMDR instructed by Laurel Parnell, Ph.D.