How to heal from PTSD and trauma using EMDR Therapy?

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EMDR Therapy Toronto: If you have had traumatic experiences, or you feel that your past is adversely intruding on your present, or you have been diagnosed with PTSD, or a professional has mentioned that you give EMDR Therapy a try, then this is the page for you.

What is EMDR Therapy?

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. EMDR Therapy is an eight-phase, structured psychotherapy modality that can be used for desensitizing and reprocessing traumatic memories and other “dysfunctionally stored information”. It is typically used for treating phobias, PTSD, anxiety and clearing other symptoms from traumatic events, such as domestic violence, childhood trauma, sexual abuse, accidents, etc. It can also be used for transforming our limiting core beliefs in a variety of settings. Please see below FAQs regarding the specific usage of EMDR Therapy for various types of trauma, such as single event traumas, childhood developmental trauma, attachment and relational trauma.

My Credentials as an EMDR Therapist

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I was trained in EMDR in 2017 and I have earned the designation of EMDRIA-Approved EMDR Consultant, which means that I can train and supervise EMDR therapists. I have completed the EMDR Certification process and the subsequent process to become a consultant/supervisor, teaching EMDR Therapy to newly-trained EMDR therapists. This process takes a minimum of 3 years to complete and a lot of experience using EMDR Therapy in various situations with different client populations and issues. Click on the badge to verify the requirements for earning the EMDR Consultant designation.

How Does EMDR Therapy Work?

Briefly, EMDR Therapy works on the model that some of our presenting issues can be traced back to memories from our past, which did not get “digested” or processed properly by our brain’s information processing system. This would likely happen if the memory was experienced as being traumatic.

EMDR processing happens by firstly desensitizing the emotional charge in the memory. When that happens, the brain considers the memory to be less important. Secondly, EMDR Therapy helps the brain consolidate these memories by transferring them from short-term muscle memory to long-term memory. It results in that feeling of finally moving on from the traumatic event.

For example, if you were physically or verbally abused as a child by your parents, then you may have internalized beliefs such as, I am bad, or I am not good enough. But now you are a senior manager at a bank and are doing well for yourself and are good at what you do. Yet, you have these old core beliefs in the pit of your stomach, giving you unnecessary anxiety, nightmares and maybe even flashbacks of the past. You may also feel like an impostor at your job.

EMDR Therapy can be used to tell that old part of your brain that is holding the childhood trauma and the negative core beliefs, that the abuse is over. That you are a good person, who is successful and proficient at your job. Over time as we do this work, you may find that your day-to-day anxiety level drops and you are no longer getting triggered by your past.

It is important to note that trauma can have powerful effects on our psyche and our bodies, regardless of how big or small it looks from the outside. For example, being verbally humiliated in class by a teacher at the age of 8, might have equally harmful effects, as someone getting physically assaulted at the age of 15.

FAQs About EMDR Therapy

What all issues can EMDR Therapy help me with?

The American Psychological Association (APA) has recognized EMDR Therapy as the therapy of choice for PTSD. Though there are also many different variants and protocols that other therapists have created over the years, to adapt EMDR Therapy for other issues, such as anxiety, phobias, attachment and relational traumas, dissociative disorders, etc.

I have significant anxiety/PTSD-like symptoms, but I can’t think of big traumatic events in my life. Can EMDR Therapy still help me?

The definition of trauma has changed in recent times. Currently, it is defined as anything that overwhelms us psychologically. There are two types of trauma, one called “Big T” trauma, such as war, sexual abuse, rape, physical assault, major accidents, natural disasters, torture, etc. The other is called “small t” trauma, such as verbal, emotional, psychological abuse, childhood neglect, abandonment, smothering, difficult breakups and other forms of relational, attachment and childhood developmental traumas.

“Big T” traumas are generally highly intense and short-lived, often showing up as discrete events in a client’s trauma history. “Small t” traumas on the other hand can be of lower intensity that can go on for years. “Small t” traumas are no walk in the park and can cause significant post-traumatic stress symptoms, if not full-blown PTSD.

When it comes to attachment, relational and childhood developmental trauma, EMDR Therapy may need to be adapted to the client’s specific situation. I do practice a variation of EMDR called Attachment-Focused EMDR Therapy.

I have heard that EMDR Therapy can heal issues within a few sessions. Is that true?

EMDR Therapy can be very effective, but it is not a magic pill and every client’s situation is unique. Our issues are often multi-factorial and thus many factors are needed to make therapy effective in healing your symptoms. This includes the strength of our therapeutic relationship, your coping mechanisms, your ability to regulate overwhelming feelings and to feel safe in your body and with other people, the level of dissociation that we are working with, the quality and quantity of supports in your life, etc.

EMDR Therapy is one of the factors within this framework. Having said that, I strongly believe in a results-oriented approach and we will work collaboratively to ensure that the therapy is meeting your needs.

EMDR Therapy for Single Event Traumas vs. Childhood Developmental Traumas. How are they different?

In cases of single event traumas in adulthood, where the client had a relatively trauma-free childhood with secure attachments, EMDR Therapy can be quicker in terms of showing results. I analogize the trauma to be like a localized tumor in the body, which can be directly accessed and dealt with.

While in cases where there is significant childhood trauma, or significant dissociation, EMDR Therapy needs to be implemented with other modalities and the therapy process can be slower and more long drawn out. Dealing with the trauma is then similar to dealing with late stage cancer, which has metastasized to different parts of the body. The trauma then affects every aspect of our personality and our sense of self. It is not as cut and dry as the scenario presented above, with single event traumas.

Once we conduct the intake in the first session, I shall present a treatment plan to you and work collaboratively with you to adapt EMDR Therapy and other modalities, to your unique situation, in a safe and effective manner.

If you want to see how EMDR Therapy can help you and you want to speak to an EMDR Therapy expert who teaches and trains other EMDR therapists, then please fill the form below to contact me for a free 30-min phone consultation.

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Ayan Mukherjee Registered Psychotherapist and Owner
Ayan Mukherjee is a Registered Psychotherapist, Clinical Supervisor, and an EMDRIA-Approved Certified EMDR Therapist and Consultant. Ayan has been practicing EMDR and complex trauma therapy since 2017, specializing in the treatment of anxiety, PTSD, Complex-PTSD, childhood trauma, along with Spiritual Psychotherapy.

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