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Unlocking Healing: Understanding the Benefits of EMDR Therapy

I recently completed some training in this fascinating therapeutic modality and am pleased to now offer EMDR therapy at Chrysalis Counselling and Consultancy.

When I first heard about EMDR or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing it sounded a little unusual. Once I found out first-hand what a powerful tool for addressing a wide range of emotional challenges I was keen to learn more and offer it at Chrysalis Counselling. Today I’ll look into why EMDR therapy is a little unusual and how it moves away from talk-based therapy. I’ll also explain how EMDR therapy can effectively assist people coming to counselling for a wide range of issues, including trauma.

What is EMDR Therapy?

Francine Shapiro developed EMDR therapy in the late 1980s and it has since gained recognition and popularity as an evidence-based treatment for trauma-related disorders. EMDR blends elements of different therapeutic approaches, including cognitive-behavioural, psychodynamic, and somatic techniques. What makes EMDR therapy unusal is that it focuses on bilateral stimulation, which is typically achieved through horizontal eye movements, auditory tones, or tactile tapping.

A young woman with long, wavy dark hair is sitting cross legged on a couch. The back of the therapists head is in the foreground.
EMDR Therapy can support people facing a range of difficult memories

How Does EMDR Work?

EMDR therapy aims to activate the brain's natural healing processes by reprocessing distressing memories and experiences. The therapy is structured around eight phases, beginning with history-taking and preparation. One of the advantages of using EMDR is that clients are prompted to ‘give the headlines rather than the whole story’, meaning the traumatic event is not retold in full. This is very reassuring for many clients.

This is followed by some decision-making between the therapist and client about which memory is to be targetted. The desensitisation phase then takes place, followed by 'installation' of new, more helpful beliefs, and closure. The bilateral stimulation assists clients in adaptively integrating traumatic memories, which results in the memories having less emotional charge.

During an EMDR session, clients will be guided to recall distressing memories while simultaneously engaging in bilateral stimulation. This dual attention focus helps to "unlock" the memory network, allowing for the reprocessing of associated thoughts, emotions, and sensations. 

Over time, the intensity of the distress typically diminishes, and clients can develop new insights and perspectives on their past experiences this is called adaptive information processing.

Benefits of EMDR Therapy:

Effective Treatment for Trauma

  • EMDR has been extensively researched and proven effective in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other trauma-related conditions. It can help people process and integrate traumatic memories, reducing the emotional charge associated with them.

Rapid Results

  • EMDR will often produce results very quickly. Many clients report significant improvements in symptoms after just a few sessions. Of course, the exact duration of treatment varies depending on each client and the complexity of the issues being addressed. Lasting Change: 

  • EMDR aims not only to alleviate symptoms but also to promote lasting psychological healing. By reprocessing traumatic memories and developing more adaptive beliefs and behaviours, individuals can experience profound and enduring changes in their mental and emotional well-being. Versatility: 

  • While EMDR is widely known for its effectiveness in treating trauma, it can also be beneficial for a range of other issues, including anxiety disorders, depression, phobias, grief, and self-esteem issues. Its versatility is what attracts me to include EMDR in the range of offerings at Chrysalis Counselling and Consultancy. It is a valuable tool to add to my toolkit as it can help a diverse range of clients that I support. Non-Invasive: 

  • EMDR does not require clients to extensively discuss or relive traumatic experiences in detail, making it suitable for individuals who may find other exposure-based therapies too distressing or overwhelming.

Angela Mitten, EMDR therapist is working with a client. The client's back is facing the camera with a dark green jumper and her hair in a pony tail. Angela is wearing a brown long cardigan over a white shirt.
Angela Mitten is an EMDR Therapist in Bendigo

Types of Client Presentations:

EMDR therapy can be applied to various client presentations, including but not limited to:

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): EMDR is considered one of the primary treatments for PTSD, helping individuals process traumatic memories and alleviate associated symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, and hypervigilance.

Anxiety Disorders: EMDR can be effective in addressing generalised anxiety disorder, social anxiety, panic disorder, and specific phobias by targeting underlying traumatic experiences or maladaptive beliefs.

Depression: For individuals with depression, EMDR can help identify and reprocess underlying traumas or negative life experiences contributing to their symptoms, leading to improved mood and overall functioning.

Childhood Trauma: EMDR is particularly well-suited for addressing childhood traumas such as abuse, neglect, or witnessing domestic violence. By reprocessing these early experiences, individuals can reduce the impact of past trauma on their present-day lives.

Complex Trauma: Clients with a history of repeated or prolonged trauma, such as childhood abuse or intimate partner violence, can benefit from EMDR as part of a comprehensive treatment approach to address complex PTSD and related symptoms.

EMDR therapy offers a unique and effective approach to healing from trauma and many other psychological challenges. By harnessing the brain's innate capacity for processing and adaptation, EMDR can help people reprocess distressing memories, develop more adaptive beliefs, and ultimately reclaim their lives from the grip of past traumas. 

If you are considering commencing trauma counselling in Bendigo, or online, talk to me about EMDR therapy. EMDR therapy could be an approach that we can incorporate into your treatment plan as you move towards healing, empowerment, and renewed hope for a brighter future.


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