EMDR & How it Works

If you struggle with flashbacks, nightmares, avoidance, and other symptoms of trauma, EMDR may be the therapeutic method for you.

An Effective Trauma Therapy

At Rising Roads, we offer a wide variety of therapies for trauma. Among the most popular is eye movement desensitization and reprocessing – EMDR for short. Through a combination of eye movements and proven trauma therapy, EMDR helps the brain process painful memories and break harmful cycles of substance abuse, mental illness, and reactivity to trauma triggers. Here’s what you need to know about EMDR.

How Does EMDR Work?

EMDR may seem complex, but its name accurately sums up the actions that take place in sessions.

Eye movement: The eyes move back and forth to create “bilateral stimulation.” This stimulates both hemispheres of the brain, encouraging the amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex to work together.

Desensitization: The patient is repeatedly asked how they feel about the traumatic event, now that both hemispheres of the brain have been activated. This continues until the memory does not upset or disturb the patient.

Reprocessing: A positive belief is given to the patient at this stage. The bilateral stimulation helps the patient to incorporate the new belief into their understanding of the event, which allows them to perceive it differently. This is called reprocessing.

What to Expect from an EMDR Session

At Rising Roads, our EMDR sessions take place in a calm, quiet setting. Since the session requires you to focus on sensory input, we make an effort to create an environment that promotes relaxation and concentration.

In an EMDR session, the therapist will ask you to focus on the source of your trauma. Usually, he or she will request that you think about one specific occurrence. They will have you follow a light with your eyes, creating the bilateral movement described above. As you go, the therapist will check in with you about any emotions that may come to the surface. They will also prompt you with new, healthier beliefs to install. At the end of your session, your therapist will help you to find your center and prepare for emotional recovery after addressing your traumatic memories.

How EMDR Heals Trauma

The bilateral stimulation used in EMDR is inspired by the rapid eye movements of REM sleep. While our bodies are in this stage of the sleep cycle, the brain is in overdrive. It uses this time to process things you felt, learned, and experienced throughout the day. The belief behind EMDR is that these eye movements can be used to trigger similar processing power while you’re awake. When your mind is operating on this level, you can tackle the traumatic memories that you had previously left unaddressed.

Proven Trauma Treatment in Santa Ana, California​

If your substance use is driven by trauma, help is available. Rising Roads offers a place for women to heal from addiction, mental illness, and harrowing life experiences. Our qualified EMDR therapists are experts in the resolution of grief, loss, trauma, and other conditions. To learn more about our approach to trauma treatment, contact our admissions office.

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