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EMDR originated as a trauma therapy. Today, it is practiced by a large number of therapists across the world not just for healing trauma, but for a wide range of issues, including anxiety, depression, OCD, substance use, and eating disorders.

Traumatic life events can shatter our inner and outer sense of safety and security, thereby changing the way our brains work and shifting how we see ourselves and the world around us. We may develop negative beliefs and patterns of behavior that make us feel stuck. Fortunately, our brains have a strong instinct to heal. This means that even after a devastating experience, our brains can learn adaptive ways of functioning.

EMDR uses a method called bilateral stimulation (BLS) to facilitate emotional processing in the brain. Watch an introductory video on EMDR here. Other than eye movements, different forms of bilateral stimulation can be used in EMDR, like using your hands to tap gently on your knees or arms, or tapping on the floor alternately with your left and right foot. You could also listen to a recording that moves from the left to the right ear.

EMDR helps us identify negative beliefs associated with traumatic events. BLS is then used to desensitize the traumatic incident with its corresponding negative images, emotions, and sensations. Finally, a new adaptive belief is created and integrated to form a positive neural network in the brain.

For example, a survivor of domestic abuse may feel worthless and powerless, and experience deep feelings of shame with negative beliefs such as: “I’m unlovable” or “I’m powerless.” EMDR can help desensitize these negative feelings of shame, worthlessness, and powerlessness and update the brain with positive beliefs, such as “I’m OK as I am” or “I now have choices.” Equipped with a new adaptive belief system, a trauma survivor can gradually overcome past traumas and begin to integrate positive experiences and memories in their lives.

Find an EMDR therapist

Use these links to connect with an EMDR therapist:

EMDR International Association (EMDRIA)

EMDR Consulting

Psychology Today
Enter your zip code, click on “Types of Therapy.” Select EMDR for a list of EMDR therapists in your area.

Therapists Who Specialize in EMDR

Nyambura Kihato | LPC
Nyambura Kihato
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