Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is the training I have wanted to go for years! I am so excited to finish the part 1 of the first training and here are my notes and my reflection on my clinical work from the training. The part I of the notes is my very basic understanding of the theory.
In 1995, I was a young graduate student who was very interested in working with the adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I spent three semesters studying the literature about the treatment and came cross this research about “EMDR.” I thought it was funny that waving the fingers in front of client’s eyes can produce significant treatment result.
Fast forward to 20 years later, I have a better understanding about what is EMDR and would love to get the training done but not having time and resources to do so. Finally, I started this process and I have to say, it is far exceeding my expectation and has helped me answered so many questions clinically.
“Reaction Frozen in Time”
As I said, years ago, my reaction about EMDR is the therapist waving the fingers in front of the client’s eyes. After the training, I realized that it is a way to stimulate the memory.
Everyone one of us experiences millions of things every minutes throughout the day. We reacted to the situation based on the memories from last time. Memories are formed like this:
stimulation ==> physical arousal ==> cognition (what did you say to yourself.” ==> emotions (how did you feel) ==> experiences stored into the “catalog” of the memory library that is similar to this one.
When traumatic experiences happened (stimulation), we had the physical arousal (smells, sounds, images, emotions, etc), formed the cognition (e.g. “I am in danger”) and feelings (e.g. “fear”), and the memory gets stored away. If we are not able to fully comprehend the entire scenario, for example, why did daddy yelled at mommy when I spilled the milk on the table, we might formed the negative cognition or feelings about oneself. However, if mommy later told you, “it is not your fault. Daddy just has a bad day.” We are able to gain a different cognition. More importantly, because of the comfort from the adult, the “arousal” from the “traumatic event” was resolved and our body (nerve system) is able to restored back to its balanced status.
Everyone of us goes through different stimulations millions times of the day. We all have a “window of tolerance” to accept the up and downs of the emotions. The more “trauma” we go through (meaning less likely that our nerve system goes back to equilibrium), the window of tolerance becomes smaller and smaller.
(to be continued)