Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR)
Couples In Step uses EMDR….. to be finished
What is EMDR
EMDR was pioneered in the trauma field and research has demonstrated its efficacy in the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This brief video explains EMDR:
In addition to PTSD, EMDR has also been used to treat other concerns. Couples In Step therapist Irene Oudyk-Suk has found EMDR helpful when dealing with the following concerns:
- panic attacks
- performance anxiety
- marital issues
- childhood abuse of all kinds
- sexual concerns
Couples In Step therapist Irene Oudyk-Suk is a trained and certified EMDR therapist.
Recall a distressing event in your life. Can you still feel the anxiety, the fear and confusion in an intense way? Have events of long ago impacted your self-esteem and your relationships? If your answer is “yes,” then your brain may have stored that emotional input as unprocessed “frozen” fragments instead of as integrated and resolved memories. EMDR therapy can help you resolve those “fragments” so that resulting mood disorders and/or negative behaviour patterns can be overcome.
EMDR is not a treatment for biological/neurological issues such as bipolar disease or attention deficit disorder. However, EMDR can be used to lessen the negative self-esteem such conditions often foster.
How does EMDR work?
When a person is very distressed, the brain’s normal information processing system is interrupted. Later, when the upsetting events are recalled, they carry with them a (sometimes) surprising sense of heightened distress. These upsetting events can be powerful enough to negatively influence the way people interpret the world and relate to others.
EMDR therapy helps clients process the past — store it away in an orderly, healthy fashion. EMDR does not help clients forget the past, but it does help them put it into a perspective that makes it less likely to haunt the present. Self-esteem is enhanced, relationships recover, behaviour improves, and emotions stabilize.
Exactly how EMDR works is not completely understood. Bilateral (left-right) stimulation of the brain may help the client attend to both the memory and the visual (or kinesthetic, tactile or auditory) stimuli that the therapist provides. EMDR is thought to stimulate the brain’s operating system in the same way that the brain functions naturally during dreaming or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.
EMDR has been around since the late 1980′s. Research on EMDR is ongoing and to date there is more controlled outcome research to support it than any other treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
What happens during an EMDR session?
You and your therapist together decide which traumatic or disturbing event should be processed. The event is broken down into a visual representation, the accompanying self-beliefs (such as, “I deserve to be treated badly” or “I’m unlovable”), the emotions, and the places in the body that those feelings are felt (such as sadness felt as a pit in the stomach, or anxiety as tightness in the chest). You hold those components in mind while following the therapist’s fingers back and forth (left/right hand taps or left/right audio stimulation is also effective). Periodically the therapist stops the bi-lateral stimulation and asks you to report on thoughts, feelings, and images. This continues until the event loses its intensity. You then decide on a self-statement that is more truthful and realistic (such as “I deserve to be treated well” or “I do the best I can.”). Again, with the help of bilateral stimulation, this truthful appraisal is embraced by the brain’s memory network.
EMDR sessions are occasionally seventy-five minutes long, although a regular session of forty-five to fifty minutes is generally sufficient. As few as one, or as many as ten to fifteen EMDR sessions are necessary, depending on the presenting issues. With the help of EMDR you can expect to spend less overall time in treatment.
Who provides EMDR treatment?
EMDR is a powerful tool, so it is important that the therapist be properly trained and certified. EMDR therapists are trained to consider the various factors that make for a positive treatment outcome. A trained EMDR therapist knows how to gently support you throughout the treatment.
More information about EMDR
The following websites provide additional information about EMDR (including research information):
- EMDR International Association
- EMDR Canada
- EMDR Humanitarian Assistance Program
- An on-line forum where you can read questions and answers others have about EMDR. Scroll down the page and click on the EMDR tab.
Individuals who have experienced a great deal of early life neglect, rejection, or trauma may find that EMDR is not as helpful as they wish. In those instances the Developmental Needs Meeting Strategy (DNMS) may be helpful. Couples In Step therapist Irene Oudyk-Suk is able to work with you through the DNMS. You can learn more about the DNMS from the DNMS Institute web site.
Here is how the DNMS Institute describes the DNMS:
The DNMS is an ego state therapy designed to treat a wide range of clients, symptoms, and issues. This includes adults with complex trauma wounds, such as those inflicted by verbal, physical, and sexual abuse; and with attachment wounds, such as those inflicted by parental rejection, neglect, and enmeshment. The DNMS is based on the assumption that the degree to which developmental needs were not adequately met is the degree to which a client is stuck in childhood. It starts by guiding clients to establish three internal Resources: a Nurturing Adult Self, a Protective Adult Self, and a Spiritual Core Self. Together these Resources gently help wounded child ego states get unstuck from the past by meeting their unmet developmental needs, helping them process through painful emotions, and by establishing an emotional bond. Alternating bilateral stimulation (made popular by EMDR therapy) is applied at key points in the process. The DNMS focuses special attention on healing maladaptive introjects (ego states that mimic abusive, neglectful, or dysfunctional caregivers). Since these wounded ego states cause the most trouble for clients, their healing results in a significant benefit. As introjects heal, clients report unwanted behaviors, beliefs, and emotions diminish.
You can read an account of someone who benefited from EMDR on the success stories page.
For more information or to schedule an appointment call Couples In Step at 416-459-0956, or email Couples In Step.