Updated: Dec 2, 2020
According to Dolores Mosquera, a leading practitioner in the field of psychotherapy, “EMDR therapy is a promising approach with extensive empirical support in the treatment of trauma….but also daily experiences related to insecure attachment or adverse events of various kinds. According to this model these disturbing experiences remain dysfunctionally stored in the nervous system, blocking the innate system with which our brain processes experience. EMDR facilitates the processing and integration of dysfunctionally stored information.”
To put it simply, sometimes traumatic or aversive experiences can get “stuck” in the brain. When this happens, the individual continues to respond as if the original traumatic event was happening in the present and not something from their past.
EMDR takes less time for a person to process through and resolve symptoms than more traditional therapies. EMDR can help with a single traumatic event or multiple traumas that occur over a lifetime. It does not matter how long ago the trauma occurred, EMDR can be effective.
An example of a single traumatic event that EMDR can help the brain process through would be a car accident or surviving a natural disaster like a tornado. In the case of a car accident, a person may experience symptoms afterwards that would be consistent with anxiety: white knuckling the steering wheel, leaning forward in the seat, scanning the road with fear. If the brain detects any hint of movement along the side of the road, a person may over react to the movement; their heart may race, breathing would get faster, and could experience fear or terror.
EMDR is also beneficial for individuals who have grown up in a home with physical, sexual or emotional abuse or neglect. For example, sometimes an individual may internalize negative beliefs about their value and worth as a person due to the abuse they experienced. Someone who grew up believing they were not “good enough” may try to compensate by being a “people pleaser.” When a person believes they do not deserve to be happy and that people will reject them, they may be unable to take care of their own needs and often feel depressed, angry and bitter. EMDR can help the brain process through the events that formed these negative beliefs shaped by experiences of abuse so the person can make more adaptive responses to life events.
~Candice Chaloupka, Mental Health Therapist, Master Certified Health Coach