EMDR Therapy in Portland

What is EMDR?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a therapy that was initially developed to help people recover from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Since it was developed, therapists have been using this therapy to help people with symptoms of anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and more!

EMDR is done in 8 Phases, and like other therapy modalities, there’s a beginning, middle and end. In the beginning phases, we prepare for the in-depth processing by going over a detailed history of distressing thoughts, memories, and feelings, and choose specific “targets” to focus on in sessions. We also learn and use exercises to quickly decrease any emotional distress that may come up during treatment.

Once we have the foundation ready, we can get into processing. This part of EMDR is tough to explain without showing someone in person, but the basic idea is this: first, we identify negative beliefs that are attached to memories or events that you have identified. Common beliefs that people have are “I’m unlovable”, “It’s my fault”, or “There’s something wrong with me”. We’ll assess how disturbing a memory or thought is to you in the beginning. We’ll focus on the “worst” part of that memory, and begin processing using Bilateral Stimulation. Bilateral Stimulation (either using eye movements- watching my fingers move from side to side, or my “tappers” that lightly buzz in your hands) is what kicks your brain into reprocessing mode. I will guide you through these sets until your level of distress has gone down dramatically.

After your level of disturbance has decreased, we want to install a more helpful belief to replace the negative one. An example of this might be someone who believes that there is something wrong with them installing a more helpful belief that they are okay just the way they are.

Once the more helpful belief is installed, we check for any leftover distress (sometimes people report physical symptoms, such as tightness in their muscles) and focus on that to relieve symptoms associated with the distressing memory or thought. We want to make sure your brain is “unstuck” so we can move forward.

EMDR can produce results very quickly, but it’s important to know that every person is different and results may come at different rates. EMDR is not a magic wand. We don’t want to rush through treatment, as that can cause us to miss important pieces to the puzzle. We will continue to evaluate how you are doing throughout your time in therapy to identify any areas or phases of treatment that need more focus, to make sure that you are getting the most out of your sessions.

Additional information about EMDR can be found here: EMDR International Association

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10700 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway, Building 3, Suite 560
Beaverton, OR 97005

(503) 389-5894

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