Updated: Sep 18, 2022
With endless therapies to choose from, I discuss why I trained in EMDR.
I can sense my client’s uneasiness after walking into my office for the first time. Here I am, a stranger, asking for a serious commitment. For this process to work, the client dedicates emotional energy, money, and time each week from a busy schedule for an indefinite period of time. Even though there are barriers, people come to therapy because the investment gives them hope for a better life.
I deeply respect my clients who are willing to attend sessions week after week with the burning question, “Can you help me?” This is why I set out to find what therapies work best, especially for people who have experienced trauma. Trauma can be defined as any event that has a lasting negative effect. It can involve physical harm or threaten our emotional safety. Trauma can be experienced or witnessed. It can be a one-time event or ongoing (Shapiro, 2018). I find it incredibly unfair that things happen to us in life, especially in childhood, that are out of our control. Yet, these are the moments that shape our life’s trajectory and our capacity to live freely.
I had been studying trauma for six years when I stumbled upon Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR), and I was intrigued by it because it introduced an approach to therapy I didn’t know was possible. The foundation of all therapy is the healing power of relationships. In talk therapy, the bond between the therapist and client creates space for new ideas and a different way of living. EMDR therapy seemed to hijack a well-known formula and I was skeptical. I had a hard time understanding what an EMDR session was like, even after reading about it.
Some studies show that clients reported significant improvements from their symptoms after just one session. In an era defined by quick cures and broken promises, I had to find out for myself if this therapy was capable of doing all it claimed. After reading research articles, perusing blogs, and listening to podcasts from respected therapists, I signed up for the 50-hour training.
Attending the training was one of the best decisions I have made in my career.
I learned about how EMDR builds on the strength of the existing therapeutic relationship. It paves a path for a client to recover from the haunts of specific memories. When a client commits to this kind of growth, they can transform the worst moment of their past into wisdom and meaning for their future.
The heart of EMDR is the Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) model. The AIP model was developed to explain how EMDR as a type of therapy works quickly and efficiently to help people heal from a variety of symptoms and mental health conditions. The four main tenets of the AIP model illustrate how traumatic memories affect us and how to heal. With this understanding, the process of therapy becomes a little less mysterious. Read more about the AIP model here.
EMDR therapy is flexible and adaptive, while also being intense and depth-oriented. Maybe you have heard of it in the media (shout out to Prince Harry and Oprah), or maybe a friend has had a good experience with it, or it could be brand new to you. If you're intrigued like I was, I encourage you to do your own research and ask questions to see if you think this therapy could positively impact you. When it is the right fit, EMDR therapy can be life-changing.