Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a form of PTSD treatment available at the office of Dr. Trevor Hjertaas in Windsor. Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD develops because traumatic experiences can overwhelm the person and become “trapped” in the emotional (limbic) centres of the brain. This can lead to a number of debilitating symptoms, such as heightened anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares, dissociation, emotional numbness, irritability, and dysfunctional attempts to self-medicate (such as through drug or alcohol abuse). The terrible memories of the trauma become something the person is desperate to escape but cannot, life becoming a cruel ordeal because of this.
There are few connections between the verbal parts of the brain (in the left hemisphere) and the limbic system, so self-talk and the reassurance of others are usually insufficient to counter the symptoms. There are, however, more connections between the non-verbal parts of the brain (in the right hemisphere) and the limbic system. Although the mechanism of action is still uncertain (and research is still being done), EMDR seems to utilize the person’s non-verbal capacities to gradually process the trauma.
How EMDR Works
This is accomplished through intentionally remembering a part of the trauma, and then engaging in a guided exercise where attention shifts back and forth from one visual field to another (as the person either follows the movement of the therapist’s fingers, or tracks the lights of a small device created for this purpose). The therapist then asks what new material has emerged and the procedure is done again. This process is done gently and at the person’s own pace.
Most people who engage in EMDR find it an effective treatment, and far less distressing to more traditional PTSD treatments such as exposure therapy (where the person must visualize the trauma occurring again and again).
Book an Appointment with Dr. Hjertaas
Dr. Hjertaas utilizes EMDR in conjunction with regular psychotherapy (such as emotion-focused psychotherapy, another gentle treatment option for PTSD). The fee for EMDR treatment is the same as for a regular psychotherapy session. Call today to learn more.