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EMDR: An Amazing Therapy Treatment for Trauma and Mental Transformation!

“The past affects the present even without our being aware of it.” 

― Francine Shapiro, creator of EMDR therapy

I had struggled with chronic, horrible nightmares ever since I can remember. Therefore, I had horrible quality sleep, and subsequently struggled with fatigue. I had been told of a treatment called EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) that could help me get rid of my nightmares. “Yeah right!?” I thought. Although I was skeptical, it was worth a shot…

A few weeks later I walked into a room with an EMDR therapist. He asked about my nightmares and I started to describe them. They were full of monsters (mostly great white sharks) and the bloodiest of gore.. something straight out of a Saw, with some Jaws thrown in there, as well. It was a horror movie I had to watch every night — and couldn’t close my eyes or turn it off.

He handed me some buzzy things and instructed me to put one in each hand. They sent tiny vibrations back and forth, slowly at first. When they got faster and more intense, I noticed that my eyes would spontaneously move back and forth when I closed them. He told me this mimicked REM sleep. He then told me to think of the worst part of my nightmares, asked me notice what emotions came up, where I felt it in my body, as well as the negative beliefs that rung true for me. The top ones were: “I’m not in control” and “I’m not safe.” We started processing and he’d check in with me every 15-20 seconds or so to see what I was noticing. This went on for about 30-40 minutes per session.

Before I knew it, 3 or 4 sessions had gone by (one per week) and my nightmares were completely gone. It was a miracle! I was amazed and became a believer immediately of how rapid the changes occurred for something I had struggled with for so long. I was hooked and knew I had finally found the treatment I needed to heal myself from my traumatic past, as well as help others. It’s still so incredible to me, and ever since then I’ve continued to reap the benefits of EMDR treatment.

Mental Health Awareness

About one in five people suffer a mental illness in the United States. And 18 percent of adults in the United States are affected by an anxiety disorder like post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and many others, according to NAMI.

While PTSD affects numerous veterans, they are not the only ones with this mental disorder. PTSD also affects children and those who have experienced sexual assault, abuse, accidents and many other traumatic events. With the growing number of Americans, recognizing the obstacle of a mental disorder, there are also numerous therapy options.

An Effective Treatment for Trauma

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing is one of the most renowned and effective treatment for those who experience complex trauma and PTSD.

“EMDR uses bilateral stimulation to help integrate both sides of your brain, taps into our amygdala (where trauma can be stored), unlocks those memories and helps you to reprocess and desensitize them so it is no longer disturbing to you. While the process makes the memory feel more neutral, it doesn’t erase it. This isn’t like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It does however, help you grieve and process through the memories and come to a place of peace and neutrality. As difficult as that is to believe, you can get there. It’s totally possible.”

-Dani Ashley, LCMFT

EMDR can be a quicker and more effective therapy than other conventional talk therapies. For some people who do not want to take a convention approach, and find that talking is not really an option for them, or who simply may not want to talk, this treatment might be the answer. It is difficult enough to have experienced these events, it is even harder to talk about and relive them.

I am personally a big advocate of EMDR because not only did I use it with my patients, but I am also a EMDR patient, and have used it for my own healing, and continue to use it as my primary treatment with my therapist.

EMDR helps with other things besides trauma, such as depression, anxiety, OCD, phobias, and also helps shift your beliefs — which is a really big deal!

EMDR creates the most incredible Mental Transformations!

The coolest thing about EMDR is not only does it help us re-process and desensitize our memories, but it also shifts our negative beliefs about ourselves and the event, creating extreme mental transformations.

Logically we can know better. Logically I knew I was a Good person, It wasn’t my fault, I wasn’t permanently damaged. But, EMOTIONALLY it felt that way. Emotionally all of the negative beliefs were 100 percent true, and I was bought in. I believed them fully. I internalized my trauma AGAIN (since it wasn’t my first trauma), and those negative beliefs that were already there got cemented in even further in my brain.

Through EMDR, people can begin to clear those negative cognitions and replace them with healthier, more adaptive beliefs about themselves, that they started to actually believe. I still have much to work on, and I’m still working towards healing with my therapist. Therapy is by far one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life and overall healing journey. Yoga has also really helped me release my body memories.

“Changing the memories that form the way we see ourselves also changes the way we view others. Therefore, our relationships, job performance, what we are willing to do or are able to resist, all move in a positive direction.” 

-Francine Shapiro, creator of EMDR

If You’re Considering Therapy

EMDR is not the only type of therapy out there. There are over 100 types of therapies, and many more therapists. Not every type of treatment or therapist is going to be a good fit for everyone. It’s important to shop around!

If you’re considering going to therapy, I’d encourage you to do your research, and schedule appointments with several therapists so you can find someone you fit and vibe with. Your relationship and comfortability with your therapist is what will make your treatment successful vs unsuccessful. It’s just like going on dates… most people don’t end up with the first or second person they dated. You should be just as picky with your therapist!

To find a therapist near you, visit Psychology Today. You can search for EMDR or trauma therapists on there.

If you are local to Kansas City, here is a list of local EMDR therapists.

If you are receiving EMDR treatment, join EMDR Connect. It’s a private group on Facebook for extra support and additional resources.

Now I would love to hear from you.  

Have you struggled with trauma? What about nightmares? What do you think about EMDR treatment? Would you try it? Have you experienced EMDR? What did you think!? Let me know in the comments below and I look forward to connecting and going deeper with you. Sending much love, self-care, and gratitude.


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