Christian Stress Release

Healing Your Trauma (Pt. 2) – Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing, EMDR (1 of 2)

Today I’m continuing our new series “Healing Your Trauma”, by introducing you to Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).

Continuing our new series called “Healing Your Trauma”, I want to introduce you to 4 of the main mental health techniques that can heal your trauma. Today, I’m starting with Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). This is the first post (of 2) on EMDR, talking about what it is, how it works and how it can help reduce some of the symptoms of your dysfunctions and disorders.

 

This series is here to help you understand what resources are available to you, to help you heal your trauma. Whether you know if you have trauma or not, any of these resources can help you uncover if you do, and help you heal it. 

 

You can find links for all of the resources talked about in this series here. I encourage you to let God lead your search in finding the right practitioner and help for you. He is the Almighty Counselor, and the only One who truly knows exactly what’s going on inside of you, and which resource(s) are best to help you heal it. I’m praying for you.

 

This is the 2nd post in a series of 10. You can find the whole series here.

How to Heal Your Trauma

Today I’m going to introduce you to 4 of the main mental health techniques that can heal your trauma. The first of these is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (also known as EMDR). In this first post, I’m talking about what EMDR is, how it works, and how it can help reduce some of the symptoms of your dysfunctions and disorders.

Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR)

What is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a trauma healing technique that uses a combination of eye movements along with different therapeutic techniques to heal your trauma. (These therapeutic techniques include psychodynamic, cognitive behavioral, experiential, physiological, and interactional therapies.)

 

This fusion of techniques allows your brain to safely revisit a traumatic memory, while simultaneously releasing the trauma. It does this through having you focus on an external stimuli while you revisit the memory. External stimuli often include watching someone’s finger move back and forth, tracking it with your eyes. We call this dual attention stimuli. 

 

The external stimuli keeps your attention partially in the present moment, allowing you to safely revisit your trauma without getting lost in the pain of the memory. The fusion of the external stimuli and the therapeutic techniques help your brain and nervous system release the trauma from your brain and body. All of this leaves you with a neutral memory, free of trauma.

 

Eye movements are the most common form of external stimuli, but other forms can also be used. These include rhythmic tapping with your hands (alternating which side of your body you’re tapping on), or auditory stimulation near your ears (alternating which side of your body you’re hearing the noise on).

How EMDR Works to Release Trauma

EMDR works to release trauma from your brain and body in multiple ways. Some of these have been proven, others are believed to be part of how it helps heal trauma.

 

First, EMDR keeps you from getting lost in the painful memory, and all the emotions that came with it. If you only focused on the trauma memory, your brain would get lost in the memory, thinking that you were reliving the danger in real time. This misunderstanding of your brain is enough to shift you into the fight, flight, freeze response. With no danger actually attacking you, your brain would shift you into freeze and you would traumatize again. We call this re-traumatization. You can traumatize more by revisiting a trauma memory without the proper help. The addition of an external stimuli keeps your brain focused enough on the present moment, that you can stay safe. This allows you to slowly revisit your trauma memory and heal it.

 

Second, EMDR provides bi-lateral stimulation to both the left and right hemispheres of your brain. These 2 hemispheres of your brain communicate with each other constantly to run your life. The left hemisphere is responsible for logic and reasoning, and the right hemisphere is responsible for emotions. During trauma, these 2 parts of your brain disconnect and stop communicating with each other as they’re supposed to. Moving your eyes back and forth in a rapid motion helps these 2 parts of your brain to begin communicating with each other again. It’s believed that this helps your brain release the trauma.

 

Thirdly, it’s believed that EMDR can help your brain consolidate your trauma memory. Memory consolidation is the process where your brain takes your short term memories from that day, and files them away into long term memories. Trauma memories get hung up as short term memories, and can’t be consolidated. The memory consolidation process is believed to happen during REM sleep (the rapid eye movement phase of sleep, where you dream). It’s believed that by moving your eyes back and forth in a rapid motion, your recreate the memory consolidation process of your trauma memory, which is part of the healing process.

 

Fourthly, it’s believed that EMDR helps release the fight, flight, freeze response from your nervous system, which is part of your trauma. Studies have shown physiological changes in people’s bodies as they use EMDR, such as a lowered heart rate, slower breathing and reduced sweating. All of these changes line up with the nervous system shifting you out of the fight, flight, freeze response; into the rest and digest response.

How EMDR Can Help With Your Disorders and Dysfunctions

While EMDR is primarily known for healing trauma (including PTSD), it’s possible that it can reduce some (if not all) of your symptoms from your disorders and/or dysfunctions. If your disorder and/or dysfunction is rooted in trauma, healing that trauma will reduce the symptoms (or possibly remove them entirely).

 

The following disorders and dysfunctions have been shown to have a reduction in symptoms using EMDR:

 

  • Phobias
  • Panic Disorders
  • Agoraphobia
  • Schizophrenia (if the symptoms of schizophrenia were exacerbated by your trauma)

 

This is because healing your trauma releases the fight, flight, freeze responses from your survival brain and nervous system, re-wires the limiting beliefs that wired in during the trauma, and releases any negative emotions that came with the trauma. These responses (triggers), limiting beliefs and emotions are often the symptoms of dysfunctions and disorders. Using EMDR to heal your trauma can reduce these symptoms, if not remove them entirely.

What It’s Like to Heal with EMDR

In the next post, we’ll continue our discussion on EMDR, by looking at what it’s like to heal with EMDR. I’ll walk you through what the sessions look like, what to expect throughout this healing process using EMDR, and how to hire the right EMDR practitioner for you. 

Do You Have Trauma and Need Help with Your Triggers?

If you’re struggling with trauma triggers and life-altering effects they bring, I have resources for you.

 

While I always encourage healing in 1-on-1 sessions with a therapist or trauma coach, you’re also going to need help in between those sessions.

 

Here is a free video of one of my favorite mental health techniques for turning off trauma triggers. It’s a quick 5 minute exercise that will shift you back into the state of peace in your mind and body.

 

I also have a full Membership of videos and audios (just like the free one) to help you turn off your triggers anytime, anywhere. Some are short exercises to turn off your triggers quickly so you can get back to your life, while others are longer opportunities to turn off your triggers and release the hard emotions that came with them.

 

You deserve to live and thrive in the state of peace in your mind and body. And God wants that for you.

 

If you’re struggling with trauma and the damaging effects of it, know that it’s not only ok to get help. It’s beautiful.

 

From one survivor of this hard life to another,

I’m praying for you ♥︎

   – L aura

Want Laura On Your Blog?

Hey Beautiful Lady,

I’m currently moving across the country and unable to give the weekly podcast, blog and newsletter emails the attention they need and deserve. As such, I’m postponing them until Tuesday (6/4). If you need help healing, you can find links for Practitioners here. I’m praying for you 🤍

Laura