What is Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing, better known as EMDR?
EMDR is a type of therapy specific to treatment for trauma. Through the reprocessing of a traumatic event or memory, the patient is able to “process” it from the right side of the brain to the left side of the brain, where the trauma is stored in a space that is more tolerable for the patient. The right side of the brain is where we store emotion. The left side of our brain where we can compartmentalize and organize things.
I tell my patients it’s kind of like this, if we have a grocery list and it’s has everything we need for a month on it such as onions, fish, coffee, lettuce, salad dressing, water, bread, and so on, any of us would feel overwhelmed. We wouldn’t know where to start shopping. I wouldn’t know what isle to start going down to and when I figured it out, I wouldn’t know where to go next. Trauma can feel a lot like that, intolerable. Our feelings, thoughts, body sensations, they can be all over the place. If we organized the list the though, put the diary first, meat, veggies, drinks, etc we will feel so much less stressed walking into that grocery store. We will know exactly where to go and even if we are in a new store, we know how to tolerate the newness and get what we need off the list (tolerable).
Back to EMDR…..So when the patient feels a ’10’ on the scale of distress, EMDR will bring the distress level down to the 0-3. Disorganized feelings to organized feelings, intolerable feelings to tolerable feelings. The bottom line is when we feel like a 10, we feel overwhelmed and we have no capacity to deal with emotion. When we get down in the zone of a 0-3 we can tolerate our emotions and function a lot healthier.
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