EMDR: a new therapy for old traumas
Everybody can go through life experiences that generate traumas. These traumas can happen on a higher or lower scale, but they often cause suffering. EMDR comes to make you look at these traumas with different eyes. If you are interested, read this article and find out more about EMDR.
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What is EMDR?
EMDR means “Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing” and it is a pretty new recent form of therapy. It was created by Francine Shapiro in the USA in 1987 considering the principles of neuroscience and, since then, it has been applied by many adepts.
The World Health Organization (WHO) approved EMDR, and the American Psychological Association recommends it as one of the best ways to treat post-traumatic stress disorders.
EMDR is a way of intervention, brief and focused, on the reprocessing and desensitization of past memories that caused the emotional trauma.
It is an extremely effective treatment for children or adults who experienced traumatic experiences. It is also useful to treat emotional and behavioral problems caused by anxiety, as well as depressive disorders, panic attacks, compulsions, hyperactivity, etc.
What is a trauma and how does it affect us?
Everyone makes choices and comes across paths, obstacles and daily challenges. Throughout life, our brain processes these experiences and stores them in our memory, where meaning is assigned to all of them.
Some of these experiences mark and sensitize us to generate healthy discoveries and learning. On the other hand, some experiences lodge in our memory in an unpleasant and disturbing way, causing us extreme emotional suffering.
We have all had these traumatic experiences. While most people recover quickly, others do not. The impact of one of these experiences can be so strong that it will affect our lives for many years after the initial event.
However, living traumatic experiences like mistreatment, loss of someone dear, catastrophic events, etc. does not mean that you will necessarily develop an emotional trauma. What happens is that you can become more vulnerable and less able to deal with large emotions, which can be crucial to your well-being in the future.
Typical Symptoms of a Traumatic Memory:
- To remember the traumatic experience unintentionally and involuntary
- Vivid dreams
- To have disproportionate reactions to small things that remind us of the event
- To cry easily and for no apparent reason
- Persistent refusal of thoughts, conversations, feelings, places, people, and situations that remind you of the trauma
- Emotional and social distancing of previously significant persons
- Difficulty in falling asleep or staying asleep
- Irritability or outbursts of fury
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Constant hyper-vigilance due to a real or imagined threat
- Food disturbance with no apparent explanation and fuss over neutral stimuli.
How does EMDR work?
The method stimulates the brain bilaterally so that communication between the two hemispheres is restored. Thereafter, the reprocessing and desensitization of the past memories related to trauma occurs.
The therapists apply methods such as magnetic exposition, cognitive restructuring and self-control techniques in specific protocols and scientifically validated, that allow adaptations according to the needs of each person, respecting their individuality.
This bilateral stimulation is achieved through alternating eye movement (hence the name EMDR). It may also include the use of sound or tactile stimuli. From there, the person feels more distant from the traumatic memory and manages to look at the experience in another way. A new bridge emerges that links the past to the present.
It is important to remember that EMDR does not promote amnesia or forgetfulness of disruptive events. It only transforms the person’s experiencing traumatic memory. Then, it promotes the construction of coherent narratives and resolution of current emotional conflicts resulting from past memories.
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