Tobie Grama, LCSW

EMDR: A Very Helpful Therapy

Tobie Grama EMDR

What is EMDR Therapy?

For over a decade, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) has been gaining attention as a powerful therapeutic tool for treatment of trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder. It was discovered quite by accident in 1987 by Dr Francine Shapiro. What she found was that a particular kind of eye movement has a way of affecting disturbing thoughts and proved to be an effective form of trauma therapy. She experimented using the technique with war veterans, survivors of rape and childhood abuse, and found more and more positive results. Clients reported that many of the emotional, physical and cognitive blockages that occur with trauma were cleared. EMDR therapy was then developed and shown to bring healing to people suffering from a wide variety of disturbances.

How does EMDR Therapy work?

When someone has a trauma, the brain can get overwhelmed with information – flooded with negative thoughts, painful body sensations, emotions and images. EMDR therapy utilizes sequential bi-lateral stimulation of the brain through eye movements, tapping or sounds. This has a positive and integrating effect on how the brain processes and stores information. So people who have been “stuck” on the same old images and material can now move on. Memories are still there but the upsetting and painful feelings, uncomfortable body sensations, obsessive negative thoughts can decrease. This processing can allow one’s natural state of well being to come through again.

What issues does EMDR Therapy address?

EMDR therapy has been shown through research studies to be an especially effective form of trauma therapy. But it is also very effective for those life events that reinforce negative beliefs about ourselves and the world. Beliefs like “I am powerless,” “The world isn’t safe”, I always get hurt in relationship,” “my body is ugly”… endless statements that perpetuate an old, stuck and trapped way of thinking and being in the world.

The following issues may be addressed with EMDR therapy:

  • Trauma from childhood abuse (physical, emotional, sexual), rape, assaults, accidents, and invasive medical procedures
  • Grief and loss
  • Anxiety symptoms and panic attacks
  • Addictive behaviors
  • Low self-esteem
  • Performance anxiety and performance enhancement
  • Building positive self -image, reinforcing strengths and opening up creative, spiritual channels
  • Uncovering and resolving false self beliefs (usually derived from the past) that negatively impact current relationships

What EMDR therapist is best to work with?

It is very important to work with an EMDRIA Certified EMDR therapist who is also and experienced psychotherapist. Having someone who is certified and skilled in using EMDR and well-trained in psychotherapy and trauma therapy can ensure that this powerful tool is used to its full potential. EMDR therapy can be used on its own or be an adjunct to regular talk therapy. Since the focus is often on very vulnerable material, it is important that the clinician values creating trust and safety in a therapeutic relationship. Finding an EMDR therapist that you are comfortable with helps facilitate the healing process. EMDR International Association (EMDRIA) is a professional association where the highest standards for the clinical use of EMDR therapy are set. Many therapists are trained in EMDR but certification by the EMDR International Association means the therapist has met specific requirements regarding experience, consultation and continuing education. A licensed psychotherapist who is also certified by EMDRIA can help determine if EMDR is right for you.

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