EMDR Therapy: Unleashing Your Brain’s Innate Healing Mechanisms

EMDR Therapy Unleashing Your Brain's Innate Healing Mechanisms
Image Source: www.apa.org

When assisting clients, therapists often draw from a variety of therapeutic techniques, tailoring their approach to individual needs. One highly effective approach that has garnered attention is Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. In this article, we’ll demystify the name and offer insights into what EMDR entails and how it can support your journey towards healing and mental well-being.

What is EMDR?

Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy emerged in the late 1980s, pioneered by Clinical Psychologist Francine Shapiro. EMDR involves a structured process where a Clinical Psychologist guides the client through accessing and processing traumatic memories.

During EMDR sessions, the psychologist facilitates the client’s focus on various aspects of a traumatic memory. This process incorporates bilateral stimulation, where the client tracks the psychologist’s hand movements or other forms such as tapping or auditory cues. This stimulation is believed to activate the brain’s natural healing mechanisms, aiding in the reprocessing of traumatic memories. As a result, once-disruptive memories become less intrusive and emotionally charged.

Who Benefits from EMDR?

Initially developed for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), EMDR has gained popularity and is now utilized for a wide range of issues, including trauma disorders like dissociative disorders and personality disorders, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, OCD, addictions, and grief and loss.

Memory Processing – Regular vs Traumatic Memories

Understanding how our brain handles memories is crucial to grasp the mechanics of EMDR therapy.

Regular Memories:

For regular memories, our brain functions like an efficient filing system, encoding and storing memories for easy retrieval.

Traumatic Memories:

In contrast, traumatic memories overwhelm our brain, resembling a cluttered linen closet. These memories are shoved haphazardly into the closet, triggering flashbacks or intrusive memories when reminded of the trauma.

EMDR in Practice – How Does it Work?

At the core of EMDR is Adaptive Information Processing (AIP), a theory suggesting that our brains naturally process experiences to facilitate healing and growth (Shapiro, 2001). While activities like journaling and confiding in others can aid in this process, traumatic memories often present blocks that make them overwhelming to confront alone. EMDR leverages bilateral stimulation to harness the brain’s natural healing processes, enabling safe exploration of traumatic memories under the guidance of trained professionals.

In the context of the cluttered linen closet analogy, EMDR acts like an expert organizer, helping the brain methodically rearrange traumatic memories. This orderly process ensures that the closet can be closed effectively without memories spilling out unexpectedly — a form of mental spring cleaning.

EMDR Therapy Sessions – What to Expect?

While EMDR therapy appears straightforward, it involves a structured approach spanning eight phases. Beyond bilateral stimulation, psychologists at Clarity Health Care, renowned for their expertise in Melbourne and Tasmania, emphasize empowering clients with emotional self-care strategies between sessions.

Typically, EMDR therapy ranges from 3 to 6 sessions for a single traumatic event, with more complex cases requiring 8 to 12 sessions or more (EMDR Institute, 2023). Sessions typically last 60 to 90 minutes.

Key Takeaways

EMDR therapy stands as a potent tool in mental health, facilitating the reprocessing and reorganization of traumatic memories. At Clarity Health Care, home to some of Melbourne and Tasmania’s top psychologists and Clinical Psychologists, we specialize in EMDR therapy. If you’re interested in exploring how EMDR can support your healing journey, contact our team for guidance on booking a session with one of our mental health clinicians.