What is EMDR? EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It’s a very fancy name for a process that helps you to take painful memories that are still causing you problems and put them in the past.
What does it involve? First, we will get some background on your history. We will do a couple of short assessments to see if there is any reason we should not undertake EMDR at this time. In that case, we will lay the necessary groundwork before starting EMDR.
We will do some exercises involving guided imagery to help you build some internal resources for managing difficult emotions and fears. These exercises, by themselves, are found to be helpful by many people in calming their feelings in everyday life.
When you are ready, you will hold a small devise (called a Theratapper) in your hands that will create a vibration (like a back massager) alternating between your left hand and your right hand, The vibration helps your brain relax and process a memory without you being emotionally trapped by your memory.
Where does the eye movement part come in? When EMDR was first developed by Francine Shapiro, over 30 years ago, clients were asked to move their eyes right and left while they processed a memory. The Theratapper has replaced the eye movements.
How does EMDR work? Well, we don’t know exactly. That’s the truth. Nevertheless, countless studies and clinical experience says it does work for many people. It allows them to process a bad memory and place it into the context of their life as a whole. The memory often stops plaguing them and they feel free of the memory.
How long does it take? An EMDR session can be done in the course of an hour. Anywhere from five to ten sessions are common. It is important to understand that the therapist needs to get to know you before undertaking EMDR.
Is EMDR right for me? Only a consultation with a therapist trained in EMDR can answer that question. EMDR is one of several ways to deal with painful memories.
Are there risks? As with any form of therapy that deals with our emotional lives, there may be emotional after-effects from EMDR. You may feel sad for a while or different in some way. You may have other unpleasant emotions in the week or so after an EMDR session. These typically pass. Your therapist should talk to you about this.
Does the Theratapper change my brain? That is a great question that I hadn’t thought to answer. No, the Theratapper does not change or alter your brain. It creates what we call a bi-lateral (left-right-left-right) stimulation that helps your brain relax, settle into a memory and then reprocess the memory. In a sense, you become more creative in how you remember the past. This new creativity is what changes your feelings about the past.