with Mary Jo McHaney
WHAT IS EMDR?
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an extensively researched, effective psychotherapy method proven to help people recover from trauma and other distressing life experiences, including PTSD, anxiety, depression, and panic disorders.
The American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, National Alliance on Mental Illness, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the U.K. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs/Dept. of Defense, The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, and the World Health Organization among many other organizations recognize EMDR therapy as an effective treatment.
More specific information on treatment guidelines can be found on our EMDR and PTSD page.
How does EMDR therapy affect the brain?
According to the EMDR International Association, our brains have a natural way to recover from traumatic memories and events. This process involves communication between the amygdala (the alarm signal for stressful events), the hippocampus (which assists with learning, including memories about safety and danger), and the prefrontal cortex (which analyzes and controls behavior and emotion). While many times traumatic experiences can be managed and resolved spontaneously, they may not be processed without help.
Stress responses are part of our natural fight, flight, or freeze instincts. When distress from a disturbing event remains, the upsetting images, thoughts, and emotions may create an overwhelming feeling of being back in that moment, or of being “frozen in time.” EMDR therapy helps the brain process these memories, and allows normal healing to resume. The experience is still remembered, but the fight, flight, or freeze response from the original event is resolved.
WATCH TO LEARN HOW EMDR WORKS:
FAIRY TALES ARE MORE THAN TRUE: NOT BECAUSE THEY TELL US DRAGONS EXIST, BUT BECAUSE THEY TELL US THAT DRAGONS CAN BE BEATEN.
WHO CAN BENEFIT FROM EMDR THERAPY?
EMDR therapy helps children and adults of all ages. Therapists use EMDR therapy to address a wide range of challenges:
Anxiety, panic attacks, and phobias
Chronic Illness and medical issues
Depression and bipolar disorders
Grief and loss
PTSD and other trauma and stress-related issues
Substance abuse and addiction
Violence and abuse
WATCH TO LEARN MORE
HERE IS WHAT OTHERS HAVE SAID ABOUT THEIR
EXPERIENCE WITH EMDR THERAPY
“I had been plagued with acute feelings of chronic insecurity presenting itself as a panicked feeling of being unimportant to family/friends/husband. And, I have had really good cognitive therapy. A friend recommended EMDR to me. After my sessions with Mary Jo, those acute feelings diminished remarkably. I am still happily surprised at how much lighter, more secure and grounded I feel.
I have recommended EMDR to friends who have not had permanent success with deep, negative emotional reactions to various life episodes.”