Online Counseling for traumatic expereinces
eSupport makes EMDR Therapy accessible where and when you need it.
What is EMDR Therapy? //
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a therapy treatment that has been proven especially effective for helping those who have experienced traumatic situations. It was first used to help those who survived a wide range of severe trauma situations (assault, crime, war, accidents, etc.) and is now also used broadly to help those dealing with things like fears and phobias, anxiety, depression, panic, grief, and addiction.
EMDR is a form of “exposure therapy” where clients gently walk through their past traumatic events while at the same time making rapid, rhythmic eye movements to help the brain reorganize these upsetting memories, taking the intensity out of them.
When we go through traumatic situations, our brain can essentially freeze up (it goes into protection mode) and does not effectively store that experience. So, when we encounter something that seems emotionally similar to the traumatic experience, the old trauma reaction is ignited even if that danger is not present anymore. EMDR helps to disconnect this trauma reaction.
How does EMDR work? //
Your EMDR therapist takes you through several phases to address your disturbing memories and any related events that are impacting you and causing distress in your present life. The following phases make up the EMDR treatment model:
History Gathering and Treatment Planning
This is similar to how therapy starts regardless of the particular therapy model used (whether it is EMDR, CBT, or DBT, etc.). Your therapist gets to know you and your life history and assesses your fit and readiness for EMDR therapy. Together you develop a treatment plan by identifying possible targets for EMDR processing. Targets may include your distressing memories, current situations that cause emotional distress and any related incidents in the past. Can take 1-2 sessions.
During this phase, your therapist provides thorough information about how EMDR works so that you have complete awareness and comfort. Then your therapist works with you to identify specific coping strategies so that you will be able to quickly deal with facing your distressing memories and situations in sessions. This can look like: learning new ways to calm and soothe yourself, practicing relaxation and grounding techniques, and identifying resources available to you when in distress. These tools are helpful beyond the therapy process and will provide you options to use throughout ordinary days and stressors.
An additional goal in this phase is to establish a relationship of trust between you and your EMDR therapist. While you don’t have to go into great detail about your disturbing memories and situations, you will need to feel safe enough to accurately report what you are feeling and experiencing during the eye movements. If you don’t feel ready to be open and vulnerable with your therapist, the trauma will not get resolved. Can take 1 - 4 sessions.
In this phase, a target memory or disturbing situation is identified. This involves you identifying three things as a client:
A vivid visual image related to a specific memory or situation.
A negative belief about yourself related to the memory.
Any emotions and body sensations related to the memory.
You will also identify or create a positive belief. Your therapist helps you rate how much you believe this positive statement as well as the intensity of the negative emotions.
This phase is where the EMDR begins. You will be asked to focus on the image, the negative belief, and your body sensations, while simultaneously engaging in the reprocessing. The reprocessing may include stimulation like eye movements, taps with your fingers/hand/feet, or audio tones. Your therapist will explain the purpose of these and why using bilateral stimulation (using both sides of the brain & body) is effective with this treatment. The type and length of the reprocessing phase is different for each client and for each session.
After each set of bilateral stimulation, you will let your mind go blank and notice whatever thought, feeling, image, memory, or sensation comes to mind. Depending on what you share at this point, your therapist will help you choose the next focus of attention. This is repeated numerous times throughout the session. If you becomes distressed or have any difficulties, your therapist follows the established treatment procedures to guide you.
When you get to the point of feeling no distress related to the targeted memory, you are asked to think of the preferred positive belief that you identified at the beginning of the session. You can re-word or shift the positive belief if necessary, and then focus on it during the next set of distressing events that you tackle. Over time, you will begin to see increased confidence in the positive statement and feel more able to believe that it’s actually true about you.
Overview of the Phases of EMDR //
History & Treatment Planning
Review your history, identify your main concerns, plan your goals and treatment
Create strategies for feeling safe, connect with internal & external resources, learn to self-soothe
Identify disturbing events, identify the associated emotions, create positive belief statements
Conduct bilateral stimulation, observe reactions, continue until disturbing emotions are resolved
Personal Stories about EMDR therapy
How long will EMDR take? //
This will be different for everyone and will depend upon the severity and number of traumatic situations you have faced. Generally, those with one single traumatic event that was experienced as an adult may be successfully treated in under 5 hours of sessions. Those with traumatic experiences from childhood and those who are multiple trauma victims typically require a longer treatment time.
Does EMDR actually work? //
Research has proven that EMDR is an effective and rapid treatment.There have been more than 30 controlled studies on the effectiveness of EMDR therapy. Some of the outcomes:
84%-90% of single-trauma victims no longer have post-traumatic stress disorder after only three 90-minute sessions.
100% of the single-trauma victims and 77% of multiple trauma victims were no longer diagnosed with PTSD after only six 50-minute sessions.
77% of combat veterans were free of PTSD in 12 sessions.
EMDR therapy is recognized as an effective form of treatment by the American Psychiatric Association, the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense, the United Kingdom Department of Health, the Israeli National Council for Mental Health, and many other international health and governmental agencies. Source
Over 100,000 clinicians throughout the world use the therapy and millions of people have been treated successfully since EMDR was created in 2001 by Dr. Francine Shapiro.
The Connection between Trauma and Emotion/Body Responses and Negative Beliefs //
The traumatic or disturbing experiences you have been through can result in negative beliefs about yourself or your environment. These negative beliefs then contribute to the symptoms (anxiety, panic, fear) that you feel on a daily basis. EMDR therapy helps to diminish the connection, which reduces your symptoms.
What would it take for me to get started with EMDR? //
If EMDR seems like it could be a good fit for what you are going through or if you would like to explore what therapy might look like for you and your life, I would love to offer you a free consultation to explore and discuss.
I have received intensive training in EMDR. When you are ready, you can begin the process towards feeling better in your daily life...and you can do it without even going to an office. eSupport makes EMDR accessible to you via video therapy wherever you are!