How EMDR Reduces Stress, Trauma and PTSD

EMDR — Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing–is one of the major tools for treating PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).  I use it in my Washington, DC trauma counseling practice to treat PTSD and a range of issues that originate in trauma or stress.  EMDR can break the hold of traumatic memories.

It works by tackling a neurological feature of stress; using rapid eye movements similar to the eye movements which occur while people are dreaming during REM sleep.  By bringing these rapid eye movements about during waking hours, I can “tap in” to the neurological pathways that formed around the cause of distress. This helps the brain to learn a new way to react. This is a proven technique to treat a wide range of psychological disorders, particularly related to anxiety.

What to Expect in an EMDR Session

  1. We begin by discussing your problems and exploring their origin. We develop a plan to help you to learn a new way to respond to distressing memories.
  2.  Over the next few sessions, I will apply the EMDR (eye movement desensitization reprocessing) technique to reduce stress while asking you to think of things that evoke the traumatic event or events in your past.
  3. During this process, these eye movements train your brain to react differently to the painful memories.

man with PTSD experiencing a painful memoryWhile eye movements are most commonly used, tapping or sounds can also be used and work in the same way. Over time, you will experience a reduction in distress when you think about the difficult or traumatic things that have happened to you.

Conditions that EMDR can Help

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Anxiety Disorders, such as Phobias, Social anxiety