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  • PTSD help with EMDR Counseling in Naperville. Eye-Movement-Desensitization-and Reprocessing

    EMDR – Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

    You might have heard of EMDR before, as it is a specific therapy used for trauma. However it can be used for many other issues such as Anxiety, Depression, BiPolar Disorder, Couples Counseling, and more.

    What is EMDR?

    I wish it was that easy to explain.

    Eye – We use eye movements resembling those of REM sleep

    Movement – Bilateral stimulation is used to activate both sides of your brain

    Desensitization – Desensitizing negative messages in our brain, decreasing how bad they hurt

    Reprocessing – Integrating positive messages in our brain to replace old negative ones


    Trauma can come in all different forms, varieties and intensities.  There are car accidents, fighting in a war, witnessing a violent crime, or experiencing a natural disaster.  And then there are trauma’s that we experience throughout our lives like a verbally or physically abusive parent.  Being bullied in grade school.  Having severe anxiety about public speaking. Trauma is not determined by the event, but how we perceive it, respond to it, and process it.  When we do not accurately process events, they stay in our brains and our bodies and can have a negative impact when we are triggered by an element that reminds our brains and bodies of the unprocessed negative event.  This is not just a single event, it can be multiple events, and even multiple memories.  Our brains remember the trauma as well as our bodies.  Our bodies have a physiological response to our perceived trauma.  And our bodies remember.  This causes limitations in our ability to function in certain circumstances.

    Our brains…

    After a traumatic event, our brains process things the way they need to.  Sometimes they need to protect us, which can look like avoidance, compartmentalizing, or using your body to send signals that “this is bad”.  This causes the event to be unprocessed.  This can cause our trauma triggers to cause distress in our current life.  The paths that are paved in our brain due to a traumatic event being unprocessed or negatively processed, stay there and creates negative responses in our bodies.  These can be heart racing, tightness in chest, difficulty breathing, stomach issues, headaches, and so on.  Physiological responses in your body can cause unbalanced chemicals in your brain, and create certain feelings and thoughts, which can negatively influence your current functioning.

    Our bodies…

    The body remembers.  My trainer taught me that.  We all have a physical response to emotional situations and when those emotional situations are triggered again our bodies can respond as if the trauma was happening again.

    Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

    EMDR is a therapy using eye movement to help desensitize the intensity of how the trauma feels in our brains and bodies.  Then it uses eye movement to help reprocess the memory/disturbing experience, with a positive thought/cognition.  It has specific steps to help identify the root memories and body sensations associated with your current triggers that are causing distress in your present situation.  Then we take these memories and help you figure out the negative messages that were going through your brain during and after the trauma.  Then comes Desensitization.  We will help you bring down the negative intense responses when thinking about the root memory.  Then Reprocessing, we help increase the validity of a more positive message to help replace the old negative message.  The goal is not to ERASE the trauma, or the memory.  It’s to decrease how bad it hurts when you are triggered, and helps strengthen a more positive thought about yourself.  The trauma usually creates a negative message, “I am not safe”, “I am not good enough”, etc… and we replace it with a positive one “I am safe”  “I am good enough”.


    During the process we will use eye movements to help your brain “pave a new path”.  The old path is what your brain created after the trauma.   Bilateral stimulation is used by way of eye movements, or tapping.  It stimulates both sides of your brain which helps to reprocess things.  Like when you are sleeping, you experience REM sleep where your eyes move back and forth.  That is connected to our brains processing things that have been unprocessed in our wake lives.  This therapy is emulating that process, in order to RE-process.


    At the end of the day it looks like a professional shaking their fingers in front of your face.  But I tell you it works.  Any residual childhood issues still lingering?  Traumatic events, or even negative messages that you still have about yourself, can be helped and improved by EMDR.


    Christine Barker is our EMDR trained therapist.  She has herself experienced the beneficial feelings of EMDR therapy.  Christine uses a light bar in her therapy, as well as tappers if eye movement is uncomfortable for you.  Give us a call today to speak with Christine about EMDR if you have any additional questions.

    *Be advised all mental, emotional and behavioral services are currently offered via online counseling and virtual therapy. Unfortunately, we are not offering in-person office hours until further notice. All of our mental and behavioral health services are available through our HIPAA compliant online counseling portal where we conduct virtual sessions through a safe and secure outlet. EMDR is a service we are regrettably unable to offer virtually. We would love to provide alternative treatment while out of the office. Contact us to discuss options for alternatives to EMDR treatment.*

    Want to learn more about EMDR? Click here!

    To learn more about treating trauma, signs of trauma, and trauma related issues, visit our Trauma page.

    To learn about another treatment for PTSD and Trauma offered at Inner Courage Counseling check out our Cognitive Processing Therapy page.


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