Yes, you can let the past go without having to rehash everything.
What do you do when talking about your painful experiences won’t release their hold on you? When you need a trauma cure?
Talk therapy works for some people. Others, not so much.
Exposure therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) are common talk therapies designed to help sufferers work through descriptions of their remembered pain and traumatic experiences. Talk therapy generally assumes a couple of things: You need increased exposure to memories you are avoiding in order to overcome them, and you might be helped by sharing details of your trauma so that your negative thoughts and beliefs may be identified, challenged, and changed.
There is nothing wrong with talk therapy treatments. Again, they often bring relief.
However, there are also a lot of people who don’t find relief by reliving and rehashing the most painful parts of their lives.
Sometimes, an event or series of events is so disturbing your nervous system cannot function normally. The memory of the trauma becomes a part of you. All of the traumatic psychological and physical details are internalized, along with a host of negative beliefs. As long as the traumatic memories go unprocessed, they may be triggered by experiences or interactions in your current life, shifting and coloring your perceptions.
Some people need more than conversations and replacement thoughts to resolve what is happening in their minds and bodies. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, EMDR psychotherapy, provides a proven therapeutic alternative.
Unlike talk therapy, the value of EMDR therapy is in its ability to assist your brain and body’s information processing system to make the automatic connections necessary for settling traumatic disruption for good.
How EMDR therapy changes your mind:
EMDR treatment is particularly effective because it helps spur a psychological transformation of your most disturbing, frightening, and upsetting experiences. This allows for the elimination or release of unhelpful thoughts, sensations, and beliefs that you may have consciously or unconsciously linked to painful past events.
The internal processes of your mind are supported so that more helpful connections of the nervous system are made in your memory networks. You become able to completely reprocess difficult memories. Trauma loses its ability to torture you as the intensity is lessened and the negativity is neutralized. From there, healing begins.
How EMDR therapy is linked to REM sleep and more meaningful recovery.
Research suggests that the eye movements used in EMDR therapy stimulate the same processes that occur during rapid eye movement, or REM, sleep.
REM happens while we are dreaming. Scientists believe that at that point, the brain processes survival information. They assert that the eye movements of both the REM state and EMDR treatment help move episodic traumatic memory, including all the emotions, physical sensations, and beliefs linked to the trauma into more logical memories. From there, meaning and perspective are gained, and negative, erroneous connections can be released.
How EMDR treatment is accomplished.
Francine Shapiro, Ph.D., the originator and developer of EMDR therapy, describes the actual process in the following way:
“Specific procedures are used to help clients maintain a sense of control during memory work as the therapist guides their focus of attention. They need only focus briefly on the disturbing memory during the processing while engaged in the bilateral stimulation (eye movements, taps or tones) as the internal associations are made. The client’s brain makes the needed links as new emotions, sensations, beliefs, and memories emerge. All of the work is done during the therapy sessions. It is not necessary for the client to describe the memory in detail, and no homework is used.”
Compared to traditional therapies, EMDR treatment may feel very different. It is not a prolonged experience. It does not reinforce specific facets of your trauma. Distressing thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations may occur, but after noticing them briefly, the bilateral stimulation will move you on.
The process is not about controlling, stuffing, or becoming overwhelmed by your emotions. EMDR treatment is a transformational therapy meant for the powerful and conclusive healing of your brain and body.
If you have questions about EMDR therapy, please call me to set up your free 15-minute phone consultation so we can discuss how this very effective form of treatment might be helpful for you. I look forward to hearing from you.
This article was originally published at Linda K. Laffey, MFT. Reprinted with permission from the author.