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Friday, November 25, 2016

EMDR


Hello and Happy Friyay! Happy Black Friyay, in fact! Even here in Canada, though we don't celebrate Thanksgiving in November, we do celebrate the retail craziness of Black Friday.

While I've been offline I've been super busy.

When I say busy, I am not even referring to being sick, to Little A getting sick, to still having no working oven, or to the power outage we experienced Wednesday morning. Whew!

Nope, I am referring to the intensive professional training program I was doing...and only part 1 of 2!!

Adding to my repertoire of therapeutic modalities I offer, I am training as an EMDR therapist. EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. Ever heard of it?

Here is some info:

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a type of treatment primarily used for PTSD, or other anxiety-related disorders. The theory is that trauma or other experiences that overwhelm normal coping mechanisms cause pathology when they are inadequately processed by the brain and stored as an isolated memory network.

 EMDR can reduce or eliminate the long-lasting effects of distressing memories (or negative cognitions) by engaging the brain's natural adaptive information processing mechanisms, thereby relieving present symptoms. The therapy uses an eight-phase approach that includes having the patient recall distressing images while receiving one of several types of bilateral sensory input, such as side to side eye movements, auditory beeps or hand pulses.

According to Francine Shapiro, who developed EMDR, the official definition of EMDR is:


EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences.  Repeated studies show that by using EMDR therapy people can experience the benefits of psychotherapy that once took years to make a difference. It is widely assumed that severe emotional pain requires a long time to heal.  EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma.  When you cut your hand, your body works to close the wound.  If a foreign object or repeated injury irritates the wound, it festers and causes pain.  Once the block is removed, healing resumes.  EMDR therapy demonstrates that a similar sequence of events occurs with mental processes.  The brain’s information processing system naturally moves toward mental health.  If the system is blocked or imbalanced by the impact of a disturbing event, the emotional wound festers and can cause intense suffering.  Once the block is removed, healing resumes.  Using the detailed protocols and procedures learned in EMDR therapy training sessions, clinicians help clients activate their natural healing processes (Source: EMDR Institute, Inc.).

In other words, when disturbing information gets stored in the nervous system, it causes chronic pain, distress or dysfunction, EMDR helps people reprocess the information in a way that eliminates the suffering. It is not hypnosis, it does not involve the client losing awareness or consciousness, and it does not eliminate the actual memory. It simply removes the physical/emotional charge or stimulus that accompanies the memory.

It is used primarily for PTSD, but also for generalized anxiety, grief and loss, phobias, and dysfunctional negative cognitions (I am worthless, I am stupid, I am powerless, I am in danger, etc.).

I first encountered EMDR when doing the practicuum for my counselling degree. I did 2 and one was in a fertility clinic, with my mentor, who has been doing EMDR for years. I'd never heard of it before and frankly, I was skeptical. But only until she had me sit in on a session.

We were working with an infertility patient who, after several years of unsuccessful treatments, was using an acquaintance as a gestational carrier. It was a rare situation where we did not feel the fit was ideal, as our interview with this acquaintance suggested she was offering to carry the pregnancy for self-serving reasons, which might be harmful to the patient. We then found out our client was not opting to use a G.C. due to medical reasons. In other words, she had no medical evidence that she couldn't carry a pregnancy if she were to become pregnant. More work with her revealed that she had been raped years earlier and lasting trauma from the rape made her feel her body was damaged and that's why she was unable to carry a baby. She agreed to try EMDR to address the trauma from the rape, and I have to tell you that what I witnessed in that session was nothing short of a miracle. She literally made peace with the experience in one session! An experience she had never told anyone except her husband about before this time and caused her enormous suffering. 

Now, I should add that it is not always the case that breakthroughs like this happen in a single session, but even for the most severe PTSD, results occur usually in less than a year.

Since then, when I have clients with severe trauma or phobias, I have been referring them to my mentor for EMDR. They almost always contact me afterwards and tell me it was 'miraculous'. Now, I am so excited that I can work with my clients doing EMDR myself!

I wish this weekend was quiet, but I work both tomorrow and Sunday, and there are lots of errands to do. At least I am feeling better. Aside from a very runny nose, I've kicked this cold and I have my voice back. Thank goodness. I like to talk!

Have a happy and healthy weekend.