EMDR – a psychotherapy

Everyone at one point, experienced stressful event. It might have been a minor incident like a spoiled coffee on shirt just before the meeting, or something slightly more affecting like a car crash. Fewer have gone through major distressing situations like natural disaster or war. The traumas of small or big effects, are accompanying our life since birth. Wait a minute? “No” – you might say- “My life has been quite peaceful and mostly happy, and I can’t really relate to those statements at all. That might be true and indeed, most of the people are able to cope with traumas and distress with inherent coping mechanisms. Most of us would therefore, agree with wise statements like “Time cures wounds”, and “What does not kill you, strengthens you”. Yet, if we look closely at our life there might be some events, which we forgot or do not treat as traumatic, or in some cases have been successfully repressed to our unconscious. If they are closed and processed to the “past shelve” by our skillful mind, that’s great. However, the integration and processing abilities of our brain might sometimes be jeopardized and result in some emotional states or thoughts left unprocessed. In such case, later on, in our present life, we might find it difficult to deal with daily life stressors. It may show that during intense moments our mind comes back to those forgotten but not processed events or feelings and experiences them as if they were still present. We might unconsciously be triggered by small distresses to experience emotions related to much bigger traumas from past all over again.

In general, there are two types of traumas that affect people, namely Traumas with capital “T”, which are the colossal events causing distress in global understanding, like catastrophes, natural disasters, physical abuse and life threating events. These happenings are usually related to Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) and recognized as such. People experiencing Traumas of such kind, are usually met with compassion and relevant care. There are, however, traumas of a different nature which are being experienced subjectively. People going through difficult relationships, psychological abuse, bullying, mobbing or distress of any other kind on daily basis, might react similarly to the ones experiencing Trauma with capital T.

These experiences may significantly interfere with their health and well being. Subjective traumas may not be seen or recognized by significant others or even by a person her/himself. Yet, the powerful emotions related to it may affect negatively self-concept, self-esteem and self-efficacy, and therefore have adverse impact on various life aspects. Those unprocessed emotional states may lead to anxiety, phobias, lack of acceptance and strong cognitive dissonance as well as dissociations in both children and adults.

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is one of the most researched forms of psychotherapy with strong scientific background supporting its effectiveness. EMDR incorporates eye movement or other types of bipolar stimulation, in order to encourage brain to process information from all physiological brain regions.  Hence, it is regarded as a holistic approach to psychotherapy, which addresses all three composites of human being – Cognition, Affective States and Physiology. It engages therapist and client to work together on the matrix of memories. EMDR is recommended by World Health Organization.

Blog on EMDR by Magdalena Mosanya, EMDR therapist, Member of Polish Association of EMDR, Practicioner at Blue Lights, Dubai