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EMDR - Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing

Your brain stores memories as a somatic (bodily) experience, a thought(s), and as emotions. Think of cotton candy. As you read that, you got an imagine, your mouth may have filled with water, you maybe if got a slight sense of the scent, and you had either a positive or negative thought about it. You may have also experienced an emotion related to an event where you consumed cotton candy.

When there is a traumatic event(s), memories are still stored as a somatic and emotional experience and a thought/cognition. These memories are kind of "misfiled." The associations aren't correct. So, in the case of a carwreck, I may no longer feel safe getting into a vehicle, because the sensory experience is too triggering, or because I now believe (cognition) that cars are just too unsafe. In the same way, after a traumatic assault, a survivor may experience triggering at certain sounds, scents or words. Sometimes, we may not even know why we are triggered.

The combination of body work and EMDR are the most effective way to address C-PTSD and PTSD. Using these therapies, we can help desentize or reprocess the memories in all their parts (sensory, emotional, somatic and cognitive), so that they no longer interfere with your ability to enjoy your life free of triggers.

Is EMDR like hypnosis?

In that we are accessing thoughts and feelings that you maybe aren't consciously aware of all the time, yes, they are similar. However, during EMDR, you are fully conscious, fully awake, fully aware. Your therapist checks in with you every 30-60 seconds to help guide and direct your focus and attention. 

Can EMDR implant memories?

The easy answer is no. What we can do through EMDR is imagine a different way for you to react to triggering moments in the future and help create new neuropathways to make those reactions more accessible when triggered.

Are there any side effects? Is it dangerous?

EMDR is not dangerous when used by a trained therapist. However, some therapists are not properly trained. You may experience fatigue, tiredness or the feeling of being more emotionally raw in the days following an EMDR session. Your brain is doing a lot of work in a brief amount of time. It is important to allow for rest and practice proper self-care following a session. 

Does the Bible warn against therapies like EMDR?

A few in the Christian community have written articles against the use of EMDR, citing that it isn't done under the supervision of the church or Scripture. I have read many of them and found they lack and undertsanding of trauma, neurology or even the science behind EMDR. My response is that there are many things don't fall under the supervision of the church or Scripture, such as chemo-therapy, knee replacements, haircuts or any number of other non-ecclesiastical activities or treatments. EMDR is a psychotherapeutic intervention rooted in neurological research. The Bible tells us that God imparts wisdom and that we should seek to be knowledgable and use that wisdom. With all of that said, no therapy will work if the client is resistant to it or hasmnegative emotions toward it. If you are uncomfortable with any part of your therapy, please let your therapist (me) know. Your comfortability with the methods comes first.

Does Stephanie use EMDR with all clients?

 No. Part of the assessment process is to determine a diagnosis and treatment plan with the client's direction and input.

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