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Mainstream therapy increasingly acknowledges that belief, experience, and trauma are held within the body as well as the mind. This should come as no surprise. Some of our earliest experiences of emotion are felt before we even know how to make sense of them. Many common sayings speak to the meeting of emotion and physical sensation: to be “choked up” when overwhelmed, “have a stomach full of butterflies” when excited, or to experience “heartbreak” when profoundly sad. 


EMDR views the body and mind as partners, each with an innate capacity to process and heal. Still, the traumas of life can sometimes get stuck, and an assist becomes useful. To make a simple comparison: When we get injured, we often clean and apply a topical ointment to our wounds. This treatment does not “fix” the body, but it does allow the body to heal more effectively. 


EMDR provides a way for a client to access and experience closure with painful clusters of experience that have evaded cognitive therapy. It works by engaging not just the cognitive, but the somatic, or felt experience of the body. While this concept can sometimes be difficult to grasp, consider the following statement: “I know rationally that I’m not (worthless, ugly, unsafe), but it doesn’t FEEL like it.” 


EMDR works to synthesize and resolve what we know and what we feel. EMDR facilitates a state of “dual awareness” of the past and the present by using rhythmic movements that stimulate both sides of the body and brain.  From here, a client can process past events with the support of their therapist, and more importantly, their adult perspective and understandings of the world. Thus EMDR is distinct from approaches that only relocate an individual in a place or memory of trauma. 


My experience (as both client and practitioner) of EMDR has shown me the potential of this powerful modality. 

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