If you get a slight cut on your arm, your body has an innate ability to heal itself. Maybe it doesn’t go as fast as you like, but the bleeding stops and then a scab forms. The scab is meant to protect the wound and facilitate further healing Soon, the scab disappears, leaving only skin. However, if re- injured before the skin heals, or if the cut becomes infected your body will need to expend more energy in healing and may even need additional help such as antibiotics. Many don’t realize this, but the brain and the nervous system work in a similar fashion. It may not always seem like it, but the brain tends to gravitate towards safety and making sure you are safe both mentally and physically. If something threatens our safety, the brain and nervous system will come up with protective strategies. If the threat is overwhelming or life threatening or goes on over time our ability to process these memories is compromised. Traumatic memories are unable to be integrated and instead become “stuck”. At Trauma and Beyond Center ®, EMDR in Los Angeles is one of the effective therapies we use to help you heal from trauma and PTSD.
EMDR in Los Angeles Explained
EMDR stands for “Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.” It’s becoming more and more popular for a reason: it’s been proven to help the mind heal faster and in a more complete fashion than other psychotherapy methods. EMDR has been widely studied showing excellent results for both single events and reoccuring trauma. EMDR is thought to access the trauma memory network in a way that promotes new associations and adaptive processing. Processing of the memories happens only after preparing our clients with tools to keep them safe and grounded. After that, traumatic memories are processed in small doses going at a pace that prevents retraumatization. During the reprocessing phase, trauma triggers are desensitized and and new associations are made to enhance healthier functioning. At Trauma and Beyond Center ® , we often use EMDR when people come to us after having suffered traumatic and terrifying life experiences. EMDR therapy helps to better support healing, relieve emotional distress, integrate memories into more adaptive memory networks and regain a sense of well being. When trauma is no longer in control, we increase the ability to develop experiences of safety, connection with others, and joy in our lives.
Bilateral stimulation is one of the key techniques in EMDR. This can be done by using eye movements, light, sound or tapping to access both right and left hemispheres of the brain. This treatment method works to release information that’s trapped in the mind and body, so that the patient can further heal. Once a target memory has been chosen to work on, the therapist will ask the client to hold a visual image in their mind, notice any bodily sensations as well as emotions, and notice negative thoughts associated with the event. Bilateral stimulation allows memories and associations to arise in the client. The therapist will guide the client to notice what is happening inside, and will repeat short sets of bilateral stimulation until the specific target has become desensitized or less distressing. This will be repeated until the memory no longer holds the same power. It is not that the memory will go away, but that it will no longer intrude on or be felt in the present. EMDR has been studied with with veterans, sexual abuse survivors, survivors of domestic violence and many other populations showing excellent results.
The Different Phases
EMDR typically has eight separate phases. The first phase is essentially assessment: the therapist takes the patient’s history, assesses their readiness and formulates a treatment plan. In the next stage, the work is to provide the patient with multiple ways of handling emotional distress by using techniques like grounding (feeling into your body in the present moment), resourcing (using imagery to bring peaceful sensations) distracting (taking attention away from emotions), distancing (helping learn to slow down the images and that it is not happening now), and other stress reduction techniques. We never want to move to quickly into reprocessing, taking time to fully prepare the patient. For some, immediate relief is felt at this stage as they become better able to regulate their emotions, self soothe and regulate stress. This feeling of empowerment increases the self esteem and the overall feeling of well being. The next phases are where the reprocessing happens. Memories will be targeted and processed with the goal of alleviating the overwhelming thoughts, feelings, emotions and bodily sensations associated with each part of the traumatic memories. Often traumatic memories are stored in fragments. EMDR facilitates integration of these fragmented parts allowing the memories to be processed.
EMDR for You
If you’re interested in this kind of therapy, please call us for a free phone consultation. We understand that as you read this, you may have questions about whether or not what you are experiencing may be related to trauma or whether EMDR will be right for you. We are only a phone call away. We will be happy to speak with you about your symptoms and what may be the best treatment methods for you, as our therapy is always individualized for each person. Whether it is EMDR, Somatic Experiencing or a variety of other therapies, your therapy will be designed for you. Call us at (818) 651-0725.