At SARA we provide trauma therapy for survivors of sexual abuse and assault. The therapeutic space is a collaborative one in which survivor and therapist work together to set goals to address the impacts of their trauma. As therapists, we use a variety of modalities to support survivors in this process. One such evidenced based modality is Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing Therapy or (EMDR).
EMDR is a psychotherapy that works with the brain and body’s natural design for healing. When we get an injury, our bodies automatically begin to work toward mending the wound. Debris left in the wound can inflict more pain and interrupt the healing process. Once the blockage is cleared the natural process of healing can resume.
Similarly, when we experience trauma, it can overwhelm our system. Memories, emotions, and body sensations can get frozen in process and stuck in trauma time. EMDR creates opportunity for information to be reprocessed. Dual attention is used in the form of tapping or eye movements to access the traumatic memory network while helping the survivor stay in the present. EMDR has a three-pronged protocol that includes the following: 1) traumatic events that have caused distress are processed, enhancing linkage to adaptive information 2) internal and external stressors/triggers are targeted and desensitized 3) future templates are incorporated, enhancing skill building to support adaptive functioning. Results of EMDR may include an increase to adaptive beliefs, new learning, and a reduction of both emotional and physiological distress.
The enclosed video shows more of the phases of EMDR. However, please note that each individuals process is different. With complex trauma the phases may be slowed down and less linear.