Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy [EMDR] is an integrative approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. It incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches, yet often seems different than any of them, especially since it requires much less talking about or dwelling on the trauma. Instead, it unlocks a powerful and natural healing process in the client’s mind, allowing them to guide themselves to peace around traumatic memories that may have previously seemed insurmountable. Like any technique, it is not perfect for everyone, but when it is a good fit, it can lead to life-changing outcomes, sometimes in much less time than anything else. For this reason, EMDR is one of the many trauma-resolution techniques we offer at Windmill to every client.
How Does EMDR Work?
In a fight or flight moment, the brain releases a flood of chemicals like adrenaline and cortisol. During that experience, traumatic memories are not stored properly and can remain "stuck," giving the subconscious emotional center of the brain the impression that the danger has never passed, leaving the fear centers on high alert. Often, people come away from these experiences with profoundly negative beliefs about themselves, thus undermining their ability to function in life, and often leading to addiction as a futile attempt to escape the pain they cause.
When someone engages in EMDR, they discover those negative beliefs and learn to let them go. This is done through bilateral stimulation, which engages both hemispheres of the brain and gets them to work together to reconsider the memory. This may be done using eye movement, sound, and/or tactile stimulation. While engaging in EMDR, the client does not need to focus on, let alone talk about, the memory. Instead, they learn to let their mind guide itself to healing as they sit quietly. Some come away laughing or shaking their heads in disbelief as they find they are able to think about the previously traumatic memories with decreasing distress until those memories no longer bother them. They let go of the old negative beliefs and replace them with positive beliefs. Many say later that they had unexpected benefits such as being able to set and keep boundaries or being able to be in old environments without shame. Since letting go of traumatic feelings and beliefs has been shown to improve all kinds of life outcomes including addiction and other mental health recovery, we believe EMDR is one of the many reasons that so many Windmill clients go on to experience a new freedom in their lives.