What EMDR Therapy is really like!

By Jennie Dalcour, MA, LPC | May 16, 2022

In this episode of the Family Care Learning Podcast, we hear from Haley and Jennie who discuss what EMDR therapy is really like and how it can help people with PTSD and processing childhood trauma or painful memories. Learn more about Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing below.

“Today we are talking about EMDR, which is a common approach to use in trauma therapy. We have been talking about this for a while now, just really wanting there to be a better definition of what this type of therapeutic approach is,” Haley said.

The goal is to help parents decide whether or not this is a good route to take.

We have a couple of therapists at Arizona Family Counseling that are certified in EMDR, and not just any therapist can use this approach. This is something really important for parents to be aware of.

“Trauma is… a trending word right now, and I feel like if you go online, if you see influencers on social media, or if you Google it, you see a lot of topics or articles about EMDR. We just want to make sure that families really understand this… if this is something that they are seeking out for their children,” Haley said.

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.

EMDR uses some of the brain’s natural processes to digest memory and make meaning of traumatic memory because traumatic memory gets frozen in the nervous system. Then that memory that becomes frozen in the brain, and the brain doesn’t know that it happened in the past and is not happening right now. When that memory is triggered,  that person feels like that trauma is happening in the moment and this can kick off all kinds of responses in the body.

“With EMDR, the purpose is to desensitize that process… to help the brain understand that happened in the past, and I’m safe now,” Jennie said.

Jennie explained that when a child or adult is processing trauma, it’s good if the family is prepared for the big feelings that can come up.

“They might have other memories come up, things that they haven’t thought about in a long time for a couple of weeks after a trauma processing session and then afterwards, then things start to really calm down and go to a new baseline,” she said.

Parents have to be very nurturing and in-tune to their child during this time and provide compassionate support that their child needs when they go through this trauma work.

Haley shared how sometimes things get rocky or worse before they get better but that this is a part of the healing process.

The prep work that goes into this type of therapy is very important. Creating healthy, secure attachment is really the safe holding container for all of this trauma, and children need that so desperately. “We do a lot of work to build that attachment,” Jennie said.

It is no quick fix. “If you need a short-term, easy fix for really rough behaviors, this isn’t going to be it,” Jennie said. “We may want to start it anyway while we get some other short-term fixes in place to help create that stability, but EMDR in and of itself is not going to be a quick process. It’s just not fast,” she added.

In this type of therapy, therapists often use expressive therapy techniques to draw out these memories like using art or play, sand tray, drawing, etc.

Jennie demonstrates how this works. Please watch the video above to see how it works!

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In this episode of the Family Care Learning Podcast, we hear from Haley and Jennie who discuss what EMDR therapy is really like and how it can help people with PTSD and processing childhood trauma or painful memories. Learn more about Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing below.

“Today we are talking about EMDR, which is a common approach to use in trauma therapy. We have been talking about this for a while now, just really wanting there to be a better definition of what this type of therapeutic approach is,” Haley said.

The goal is to help parents decide whether or not this is a good route to take.

We have a couple of therapists at Arizona Family Counseling that are certified in EMDR, and not just any therapist can use this approach. This is something really important for parents to be aware of.

“Trauma is… a trending word right now, and I feel like if you go online, if you see influencers on social media, or if you Google it, you see a lot of topics or articles about EMDR. We just want to make sure that families really understand this… if this is something that they are seeking out for their children,” Haley said.

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.

EMDR uses some of the brain’s natural processes to digest memory and make meaning of traumatic memory because traumatic memory gets frozen in the nervous system. Then that memory that becomes frozen in the brain, and the brain doesn’t know that it happened in the past and is not happening right now. When that memory is triggered,  that person feels like that trauma is happening in the moment and this can kick off all kinds of responses in the body.

“With EMDR, the purpose is to desensitize that process… to help the brain understand that happened in the past, and I’m safe now,” Jennie said.

Jennie explained that when a child or adult is processing trauma, it’s good if the family is prepared for the big feelings that can come up.

“They might have other memories come up, things that they haven’t thought about in a long time for a couple of weeks after a trauma processing session and then afterwards, then things start to really calm down and go to a new baseline,” she said.

Parents have to be very nurturing and in-tune to their child during this time and provide compassionate support that their child needs when they go through this trauma work.

Haley shared how sometimes things get rocky or worse before they get better but that this is a part of the healing process.

The prep work that goes into this type of therapy is very important. Creating healthy, secure attachment is really the safe holding container for all of this trauma, and children need that so desperately. “We do a lot of work to build that attachment,” Jennie said.

It is no quick fix. “If you need a short-term, easy fix for really rough behaviors, this isn’t going to be it,” Jennie said. “We may want to start it anyway while we get some other short-term fixes in place to help create that stability, but EMDR in and of itself is not going to be a quick process. It’s just not fast,” she added.

In this type of therapy, therapists often use expressive therapy techniques to draw out these memories like using art or play, sand tray, drawing, etc.

Jennie demonstrates how this works. Please watch the video above to see how it works!

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