Have you heard the saying “the past is present?” In therapy and in our own lives, we often find that this saying rings true. Things that have hurt us in our past can suddenly crop up in our present reactions, causing us emotional distress that is out of proportion to the current situation.
It might be pieces of our own upbringing coming up as we are raising our children. Or unresolved feelings about past relationships impacting our ability to feel safe and secure in a current relationship. Or a traumatic memory that gets triggered by specific sounds or situations.
If you find that your past is impacting your present, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) might be a good fit to bring you healing and peace of mind.
Here are three things to know about EMDR:
It taps into your brain’s healing and problem-solving abilities. Have you ever woken up after a nap or a good night’s sleep with a sudden new idea or insight? That’s because while you were asleep, your brain was at work! EMDR uses eye movements similar to those that occur during sleep, so that you can leverage the problem-solving and healing parts of your brain. This allows you to gain new perspectives on the themes and memories that are bothering you, and in most cases leads to decreased distress when recalling what happened to you.
You don’t have to talk about everything, if you don’t want to. EMDR is a brain therapy, not a talk therapy - so you don’t have to talk in great detail. The goal is not for you to “talk through” your concerns with the therapist. Instead, you will work through your concerns by reprocessing them. The only part of EMDR that requires a lot of talking is the first session, when you will discuss your concerns and identify targets for treatment. There are also ways to “ease into” EMDR, if you think you’d like to talk about something later on but don’t feel ready yet.
It focuses on your beliefs about yourself in connection to your memories. During EMDR, we will target beliefs that are connected to painful memories. Think about how a broken bone heals when it hasn’t been reset. The same thing happens with distressing memories - our brain tries to heal them, but without a reset, we can end up believing things like: I don’t deserve love. I should have known better. I can’t protect myself. I have to be perfect. I am powerless. These beliefs are what causes continued distress in our lives, and by targeting them during EMDR, we can move to more adaptive mindsets, like: I can have love. I do the best that I can. I can take care of myself. I can be myself. I have choices.
If you are interested in trying EMDR at Embolden Counseling Collective, send us an email! We love that EMDR is a flexible approach that can be used in combination with other therapies and can address so many concerns that bring people to therapy. We would be honored to walk alongside you on your healing journey!