Magic or Science? Revealing The Neurobiology Behind EMDR Therapy

If my articles over the last few weeks have piqued your interest but you’re still not sure how EMDR Therapy and our EMDR Intensives really work, this read is going to clear up any questions!

Contrary to what may seem like miraculous results, we can definitively confirm that it’s not magic… It is pure science.

While EMDR Therapy has only become more publicly recognized in the last few years, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing has been around for over 30 years, with the origins of this mode of therapy attributed to Dr. Francine Shapiro.

Cue the quick history lesson… After noting that eye movements had a desensitizing effect on her own negative emotions, she conducted studies to test what she called Eye Movement Desensitization (EMD). The results of the study indicated that “a single session of the EMD procedure successfully desensitized the subjects’ traumatic memories and dramatically altered their cognitive assessments of the situation.”

By 1989, there were multiple studies being performed by various experts with positive results. Shapiro soon changed the name to Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing to indicate the cognitive changes (reprocessing) that were a result of the treatment. By 1995, a professional association was founded, a book of procedures was published, and it was no longer widely considered “experimental”.

Bringing it right back to more contemporary times, a 2019 study on the status of EMDR in the treatment of PTSD, 30 years after its introduction reveals that “currently, there are more than 30 randomized controlled trials… demonstrating the effectiveness in patients with this debilitating mental health condition, thus providing a robust evidence base for EMDR therapy as a first-choice treatment for PTSD.” However EMDR Therapy has been shown to be effective in an array of areas outside of PTSD, with studies on the efficacy of EMDR for Executive Coaching, Reducing Presentation Anxiety, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Peak Performance, Enhanced Performance, Elite Athletes and the list goes on.

The basic premise is that as we encounter different experiences, our brain develops neural pathways and stored memories that translate into behaviours. In a bad, traumatic or troubling experience, this process is frozen and the memories are linked to troubling images and negative behaviors. By using EMDR Therapy to intercept this process, we can
essentially rewire or reset the brain to reprocess these memories and associate more positive behaviours with our thought patterns. Magic! No, Science! It sure can feel like magic though!

But what does moving my eyes have to do with rewiring my brain?

Good question! Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing taps into the mechanisms similar to that of REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, a delta wave state. During EMDR, while the client focuses on the memory, the therapist guides the clients’ eye movements from left to right, mimicking the way your eyes shift as you dream. EEG tracings reveal that the bilateral stimulation, induced by tapping, sounds, or light, elicits a natural synchronization of cortical activity in the memory regions. Much like our slow-wave sleep, it temporarily calms the overstimulated amygdala to help access and reprocess the information and memory neutrally. Gradually, the desensitization serves to alleviate unpleasant sensations and transition them into positive cognition and emotions. W
hat is added in the process that makes the tidylodge approach so unique, is not just that it is on an intensive accelerated modal, but that evidenced-based techniques and modalities are integrated into the
framework for enhanced effect based on the clients set outcome goals.

So, where do EMDR intensives come in?

Well, this is where it gets really exciting! EMDR Therapy typically consists of 8 phases-initial history discovery and treatment planning, preparation, assessment, desensitization, installation, body scan, closure, and then re-evaluation. Experts have noted that it usually takes from six to eighteen sessions to be completely effective.

However, for serious businesspeople or those who cannot dedicate the time to a prolonged process, EMDR intensives are designed to provide just as much benefit as weekly sessions in a significantly condensed time – i.e. three half days with a pre-and post-interview.

At tidylodge we’ve taken this even further to combine the benefits of neuroscience, executive coaching and evidence-based psychotherapy to produce transformational results in just a few short days. Maybe a little bit of magic involved here, but only the kind that sees our
clients walking away with life-altering results that have seen them skyrocket to success in their chosen careers and personal lives.

Now that I’ve broken it all down for you, there should be no lingering question as to why it’s imperative to take the opportunity to reset your brain for unmatched success and optimal living.

Book a discovery call for an Intensive week or weekend and join the ranks of the many clients we’ve helped to achieve their most ambitious goals!

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