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Additional Helpful Links about EMDR:

More About EMDR
and What To Expect

True Centerpoint's EMDR pages


EMDR INSTITUTE's Description of EMDR


Additional information about EMDR:

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a comprehensive approach to psychotherapy. Research has found it to be highly effective in the relief of traumatic stress symptoms.

EMDR is based on the Adaptive Information Processing model of the brain.

  • "memory networks" in the brain are the basis for our perceptions, attitudes, and behavior.
  • the information processing system (our brain and nervous system) normally move towards health, or 'adaptive resolution.' Like digesting food, we incorporate what is useful for future use, and discard content without use or value.
  • When a disturbing event occurs, it can get locked in the brain with original picture, sounds, thoughts, feelings, and body sensations. (For example, if we were to remember a humiliating event from when we were 4 years old, we feel the hurt and embarrassment as if it were fresh, rather than years past).
  • unprocessed material often manifests itself through physical sensations.

How EMDR helps:

  • EMDR seems to stimulate the information and allows the brain to reprocess the experience. This may be what is happening in REM or dream sleep-the eye movements (or tones or tapping) may help process the unconscious material.
  • EMDR may assist in increasing neural connections between groups of synapses or 'memory networks' allowing the isloated traumatic memories to be connected with adaptive information.
  • EMDR also helps by developing dual awareness-the ability to remember past events and related sensations and emotions, while simultaneously experiencing yourself in the present, safe, now.
  • EMDR also helps by providing controlled exposure and desensitization to disturbing material
  • It is your own brain that will be doing the healing and you are the one in control.

What to Expect:

1. History Taking: we will discuss your current symptoms, what triggers them, past events that may be related, your beliefs about yourself, and your hopes for the future.

2. Developing a target: we will pick specific, pertinent images that represent traumatic or upsetting memories, and discuss the feelings, thoughts and body sensations associated with them.

3. Establish Negative Cognition: we will find words related to the memory that describes what you think of yourself in your worst moments, even if you know it isn't true.

4. Establish Positive Cognition: we will generate a statement that contradicts the negative cognition. Ideally, it will be the most powerful statement you can conceive about yourself, though it may be hard to believe it at the present time.

5. Safe/Calm Place: we will develop at least one calming exercise before processing memories.

6. Eye Movement (or other forms of Bilateral Stimulation): we will process memories, associated thoughts, feelings, images, and body sensations through eye-movements, audio tones and/or tactile taps. During these 'sets' you may experience many fleeting thoughts, evolving images, and new insights. You do not have to do anything special, just let whatever happens, happens.

7. Closure: ideally, at the end of each session, you will no longer feel disturbance from the memory, and your positive cognition will feel completely true. However, complete closure is not always possible in each session. We may use 'safe place' or calming techniques to ground at the end of the session.

Children and EMDR:

EMDR can be very effective with children. Children often process material quickly. After all, in daily life kids can be distraught about something in one minute, and off and playing the next. They easily shift through different emotional states. Children can also processing trauma through metaphor, pictures, or body sensations. EMDR doesn't require a child to talk at length, to have "insight," or to describe (or even remember) their traumas or difficulties in detail.

What else you should know before you begin EMDR:

1. If you may have to testify in court about memories that will be treated with EMDR, you should know that the process can cause images from memories to fade or disappear. In addition, You may no longer exhibit high emotion when recounting an incident. Finally, more information may be recalled about a memory. This information is always 'valid' and usually useful, from a perspective of personal recovery, but may not be 'factually true' in the strictest legal sense.

2. You may experience high levels of emotion while reprocessing. If you become very emotional, we can stop at any time. You can stop the reprocessing at any time by raising your hand, giving me the "STOP" signal, and asking me to stop. Always, I will immediately honor your request to stop.

3. The emotions experienced during sets are often the way we release old information. In the case of high emotionality, it is usually best to continue through the reprocessing until the emotions decrease, which often happens within minutes.

4. If you have a history of substance abuse, you should have appropriate safe guards in place, in case your desire to use becomes reactivated by EMDR. On the plus side, the risk of relapse may actually be decreased by EMDR, if past trauma has contributed to use history.

5. Processing may continue between sessions. You may or may not notice new insights, thoughts, memories, physical sensations or dreams. Please make a note of whatever you notice.

6. There is no right or wrong way to process information during bilateral stimulation. Just let whatever happens, happen, and honestly report to me where you end up after each set, whether there is change or not.