Therapist: Sharon Tedder
What is EMDR?
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences.
More than 30 positive controlled outcome studies have been done on EMDR therapy. Some of the studies show that 84%-90% of single-trauma victims no longer have post-traumatic stress disorder after only three 90-minute sessions.
During EMDR therapy the client attends to emotionally disturbing material in brief sequential doses while simultaneously focusing on an external stimulus. Therapist directed lateral eye movements are the most commonly used external stimulus but a variety of other stimuli including hand-tapping and audio stimulation are often used.
For a more complete description, visit EMDR.com.
I suffer from depression on and off. I have all my life. But a misfortunate event took me into the deepest and darkest place I had ever been and I struggled for five years. I tried all the things I thought would help me heal: counseling, granting forgiveness, reading books. Those things helped me a little, but I just could not move forward. I felt stuck.
My Personal Experience with EMDR
When I was a teenager, I suffered several traumatic experiences that were quite severe. Although I adapted fairly well over the years, and accomplished a great deal of healing through traditional therapy, there were still scars present in my nervous system and psyche which simply would not leave. I had come to accept these scars as part of my story, and moved forward with my life.
When I first heard about EMDR several years ago, I was hopeful yet cautious. It seemed like something I may get excited about, only to experience minor results, and just a “so-so” outcome. But I was willing to try. Since I would be seeing a woman who was an intern, the cost was discounted, and I figured I had nothing to lose.
Put simply, within three or four session of EMDR, my anxiety and related reactions were either eliminated or drastically reduced. Situations in my everyday life, such as being stuck in traffic (I know, trauma sometimes seems extremely odd in the way it manifests itself) no longer caused me anxiety attacks. The memories of my trauma no longer caused me nausea and discomfort. The memories had been defused.
I decided then and there to one day become trained to administer EMDR. I could not imagine holding a key so powerful and not sharing it with other hurting people. Today, I am a Registered Mental Health Counseling Intern, and a trained EMDR practitioner. I am now privileged to watch many of my clients receive healing and relief through EMDR.
I have seen clients receive new insight related to their past hurts and wounds, and find freedom they simply could not see before, due to trauma-induced blocking beliefs. I have been honored to hear their wonder and relief, as discomfort and unpleasant body sensations fade to extinction. In short, I am right where I wanted to be.
EMDR has many years of clinical research behind it now. It has been designated as an effective treatment by the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense, and the United States Department of Health and Human Services. It has been shown successful with traumas ranging from war and sexual assault, all the way to events like discovering a spouse’s affair, being bullied as a child, or parents divorcing.
Because this therapy relies upon each individual person’s own brain, it can and does target whatever causes distress in that specific person. While the number of sessions varies with each person/trauma, in the majority of cases, relief is clearly evident.
As with every therapeutic intervention, not everyone will experience emotional healing through EMDR. However, if you or someone you know has long struggled with the effects of disturbing life events, EMDR may well be the tool that changes everything. It is worth consideration. I hope to help guide you through the journey.
Take good care of yourself.