EMDR Therapy – Counselors and Therapists in Colorado Springs, CO
Just as traumas to our body can leave scars that last a lifetime, it has been long believed that our mind can sustain similar life-altering damage. Although that belief holds some truth- if large parts of the brain are significantly damaged, there will be major effects on psych and personality – it’s important to remember, the brain has a remarkable ability to heal itself.
This healing and adapting is called neuroplasticity and is the brain’s ability to reform or form new connections and wiring (the nerd term is synaptic connections).
The counselors at Colorado Springs Thriveworks know that it can feel like there is no winning a battle with mental illness, especially when you walk away from your counselor’s office day after day, week after week, maybe even year after year. It is an arduous struggle that reflects the true strength of human nature.
And it can be won.
EMDR is a rather new psychotherapy technique that can speed up the process of therapy and unlock healing that was buried too deep in mental illness to get to. It can harness the power of neuroplasticity, the power to heal the brain, and bring control back into your life.
What is EMDR? How does it work?
EMDR stands for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. It was originally used to unlock traumatic memories that haven’t been processed by the brain due to their traumatic nature.
The brain wants to protect itself, and it doesn’t want to relive past abuses. However, without processing through those memories, mental illness like PTSD, depression and anxiety can take root. Colorado Springs Thriveworks believes it is important to not ignore past traumas, but to work through them, and that can be very difficult when your brain wants to keep them hidden.
Processing memories is what occurs during the most important cycle of sleep- REM sleep. REM stands for rapid eye movement, and it is the stage where the eyes dart rapidly from left to right.
There is something powerful about connecting the left and right hemispheres of your brain. The brain harnesses that power to process through memories. It decides which ones are important, storing those away, and which ones can be disregarded (although no memories are ‘thrown out’, they all live somewhere, some are just harder to find than others).
EMDR seeks to recreate this healing stage of sleep. Some therapists will literally have you follow their finger as they move it from the right side to the left side of your vision. Others will tap your left leg followed by your right leg, or have you listen to sequential left-right beeping.
There are many ways to connect the left hemisphere to the right hemisphere, however, simply sitting on your couch moving your eyes back and forth will not suddenly make mental illness go away.
EMDR is a tool, but all tools need to be used carefully and with a purpose. The goal of EMDR is to unlock a painful memory or scenario where you feel a lack of control and then insert control into the memory or scenario. (The nerd term is ‘Positive Cognition”.)
For example, say you are struggling with PTSD because of physical abuse as a child:
A Colorado Springs Thriveworks EMDR counselor will first help you calm your body and mind, becoming ‘mindful’. They will begin to connect the left and right hemispheres and ask you to recall that traumatic event as best as you can. It’s ok if you don’t think you can remember everything, or anything at all, the brain is remarkable in the memories it has hidden and eventually the right one will surface.
Experiencing physiological effects to reliving a trauma are to be expected, but our counselors will help you maintain calm and in control, as that is vital for the next step: ‘installation’.
It sounds like something out of The Matrix, but it is really the act of bringing control into that situation. Maybe you bring in your favorite dog, or a best friend, into the memory with you so you have that support.
Once control is regained, healing can begin.
This may sound like brainwash, or mind control, or plain hippy-dippy hogwash. But there is scientific evidence and personal testimonies stating the reliability of this method.
We aren’t trying to change who you are or your memories. We are taking away the control the memory has over you and allowing you to regain control over the memory.
Who can benefit from EMDR?
Our therapists will often hear a client say they are ‘too broken’ to be fixed, and that they can never truly live a happy life because of their mental illness.
We want to make it clear that you can recover; the brain and human soul is very resilient. An astonishing example is the story of Simon Lewis. He was hit in a brutal car accident, resulting in the loss of a third of his right brain hemisphere, a 24-week coma and an IQ score that dropped to below 50.
He has made almost a complete recovery. His IQ has climbed to 151, nearing a ‘genius level’, he can function on his own and is enjoying life once again.
If the brain can adapt to recover from that much physical damage, it can recover from past trauma and abuse.
Although originally used to treat traumas, EMDR can be used to treat many mental illnesses. Some examples include:
- Dissociative disorders (or if one of your symptoms is frequent dissociation)
- Eating disorders
- Pain disorders
- Social anxiety
- Specific phobias
- Personality disorders
- Many, many more!
If you struggle with distressing situations or memories- such as impulses to binge eat, or intense fear of driving- then EMDR may work for you.
EMDR is also very helpful for clients who frequently dissociate in a regular talk therapy session.
Want to try EMDR?
EMDR is not magic, it can’t suddenly make all your struggles go away, but it can be a very useful tool in the healing process.
It is best used in conjunction with talk therapy. Although it can speed up the healing process, it will still take longer than one session. Most people complete EMDR therapy after 5-15 sessions, however, it is very subjective upon personal psych and the severity of trauma or scenario.
Colorado Springs Thriveworks is here to help you through your battle in anyway we can. If you think EMDR will work for you, talk to your counselor about giving it a try or call us to set up an appointment today. We have no waitlist and are excited to walk with you through this healing! Call us today if you’d like to schedule: 719-266-3919