Thursday, November 17, 2016

EMDR--Breakthrough Therapy

By Susan Morlock, MA, LPC
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a relatively new therapy, and research shows that it can be effective in reducing symptoms of trauma. Like our body, the mind can heal itself. Usually, this natural process occurs when we sleep during the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) cycle. EMDR mimics this process by having the individual recount the past trauma experienced, while moving his or her eyes back and forth in a clockwork-like fashion, known as bilateral stimulation. With repeated sets of eye movements, the traumatic memory loses its intensity as it becomes neutral and stored in the past where it belongs.
What happens when we get traumatized?
Trauma--which is an event that falls outside our usual human experience--causes distress. Trauma can be grouped into two types: Big T and little t. A big T event could be auto crash, war, losing a loved one, or sexual abuse, just to name a few. Little t events are at a more personal level such as loss of a personal relationship, loss of job, being teased as a young child, or a phobia or fear of something. When these things happen, our natural coping mechanisms become overwhelmed, and our brain freezes (flight or fight response). These memories are left unprocessed, and then when the trauma is triggered, the body reacts as if the event is occurring in the present. EMDR helps teach the brain that the trauma is a memory. All trauma has an effect on how we view the world and shapes how we cope with life after an upsetting event.
What is EMDR session like?
The amount of time to complete treatment will depend on your history. The three-pronged approach involves targeting past memories, present disturbances, and future actions. By adding a bilateral stimulation in a safe environment the disturbing event is recalled in detail. All the emotions and body sensations are explored. The idea is to shift and weaken the negative emotions and reactions to help make them less disturbing and symptomatic by turning them into resolved feelings and stored adaptive memories.
What are some symptoms that EMDR can help?
Eating disorders
Test anxiety

Can EMDR be helpful for you? Talk to your therapist or contact me for more details. We all deserve to have happiness and a full life.

Susan Morlock, MA, LPC is a staff therapist at The Awakening Center. She has specialized training in Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Trauma Therapy using EMDR, Discernment Counseling, Internal Family Systems, and Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Her areas of expertise include anxiety, depression, stress and anger management, job and career concerns, eating disorders, and relationship issues. To find out more about EMDR or to get in touch with Susan, call 773-929-6262 x 20 or email

1 comment:

  1. After a car accident where both of my children were injured, I started experiencing flashbacks which interfered with my ability to drive. After the first session of EMDR I was able to think about the car accident and not have an emotional response, no flashbacks. 2 sessions were all I needed to make sure that the EMDR was successful and I haven't had a flashback about the car accident since. EMDR works!