Monday, September 8, 2008


When a memory haunts you and arouses your physiological responses as if you were back in the original trauma, it is extremely upsetting. Talking to others doesn't always work to take away such flashbacks. One particular incident of abuse tormented me for years--I kept seeing the delight in his eyes as my abuser saw my pain and my fear in response to his physical abuse. Whenever those eyes filled my mind, I was caught...lifted out of my present and stuck in a moment of horror that had happened long before. I was beginning to wonder if this memory would ever become just a memory. A few EMDR sessions with a qualified counselor turned out to be miraculous in transforming this trauma-producing memory into an old fully-processed memory of past abuse.

EMDR is an effective tool but I wasn't sure about giving it a try at first. I thoroughly trusted the counselor and had always done traditional counseling with her. I doubted that remembering while holding two hand devices that alternated vibrations would make any difference. I was wrong. The bilateral stimulation of the brain used in this technique makes a huge difference in how the brain can deal with a traumatizing memory.

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. The technique developed by Francine Shapiro uses eye-movements or bilateral sound (with ear phones) or bilateral tactile stimulation (with vibrating mini-paddles or tapping)along with traditional psychological therapy. It is an eight step process that helps the brain to look at what seems too horrible to examine and allows the person to process the memory.

If you have traumatic flashbacks, PTSD, or feel stuck with processing a bad memory, consider EMDR. If you decide to give it a try, make sure that you are working with a counselor who has been trained to use EMDR.

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