Most people come to therapy with a pressing issue. Maybe you’re struggling getting feedback from your boss, or feeling sad when your friends leave you out. Maybe you have a fear of dogs and your partner wants to get one. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) may be able to help you with the reason you’re reaching out for extra support.
The way we move through life; our choices, reactions and interactions are all happening in the here and now. But what influences those split second decisions? Those seemingly involuntary reactions? OUR PAST! Our brain references our past experiences to help make current decisions with the goal of keeping us safe.
In EMDR we seek to understand and uncover how our past experiences are influencing our current situation, aim to bring forward more adaptive ways of responding in the moment, and prepare for future experiences.
EMDR takes a three-pronged approach; focusing on the past, present, and future to support healing. When we have a difficult experience; our brain can’t store it away in its filing system. So while it may not be on our minds all the time, it’s still unresolved or cluttering our decision-making process.
Let’s look at EMDR’s three pronged approach using the boss example from above. You’ve been having a difficult time at work and feeling really down on yourself when your boss gives you feedback. You seek out therapy to get some support. An EMDR therapist could utilize the EMDR protocols to identify past times you’ve struggled with authority relationships and use bilateral stimulation (BLS) to reprocess those memories (file them where they are more useful to you). Then focus on reprocessing the current situations (bring forward more adaptive ways of thinking/feeling about the situation) and finally, identify and create a template for future situations where you will be able to navigate difficult situations.