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How EMDR Therapy Can Help You Overcome Trauma and PTSD

You might have heard of EMDR therapy for treating trauma and PTSD, but what exactly is it?

Unlike traditional therapy, which relies a lot on talking, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is different. It's a hands-on approach that doesn’t require you to share every detail of your traumatic experiences. This can be really helpful if talking about the trauma is too difficult.

Research shows that EMDR is highly effective for treating trauma. One study found that after just eight EMDR sessions, 95.2% of patients no longer met the criteria for PTSD. However, the length of treatment can vary. For example, if you're dealing with childhood trauma or Complex PTSD (CPTSD), you might need more sessions.

EMDR therapy has eight phases, starting with creating a sense of safety and stability. Before diving into the trauma itself, you and your therapist will work together on grounding techniques and coping strategies. This preparation ensures you feel supported and ready to tackle the trauma processing phase. EMDR aims to reactivate old wounds to process them, so having stability is necessary to avoid distress.

When you're ready, the core EMDR process begins. This involves recalling the traumatic memory while engaging in bilateral stimulation, like following the therapist’s fingers with your eyes or experiencing rhythmic tapping. This helps reprocess the traumatic memories on a neurological level, leading to healing.

A counsellor sits in a chair with a notepad on her lap. Her hand is in the air beside her with two fingers raised.
Kristin is demonstrating the bilateral stimulation most commonly used in the EMDR process.

EMDR is unique because it promotes neurobiological integration by engaging both hemispheres of the brain. This helps incorporate fragmented traumatic memories into your broader life story, fostering a deeper understanding and coherence of the traumatic experience.

From a biological standpoint, EMDR mimics the natural memory processing that happens during REM sleep. During REM, our brains consolidate memories into long-term storage, but trauma can disrupt this process. EMDR replicates the bilateral eye movements of REM sleep while you remain consciously aware, allowing you to revisit and process the trauma safely.

EMDR is effective for all kinds of trauma, whether it’s a single event or chronic, complex trauma. It can also be integrated into other therapy methods, enhancing traditional talk therapy.

One great aspect of EMDR is its adaptability. It can be done in person or virtually through telehealth platforms, making it accessible even if you face barriers to in-person therapy, like geographical distance or scheduling issues. The core principles and techniques remain effective in virtual sessions, providing a safe and supportive environment for healing.

EMDR is widely recognized as an evidence-based practice by leading organizations like The American Psychiatric Association, The Department of Veterans Affairs & Department of Defense, and The World Health Organization.

In essence, EMDR is a groundbreaking approach to trauma treatment, addressing the mind, body, and brain.

If you’re looking for EMDR therapy in Kamloops or online in BC, our counsellors Kristin, Charlotte, Shayla, and Cecile are trained in EMDR for both acute and complex PTSD. Reach out today to book your session.


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