What is EMDR?

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By Natalie Stamper, Psy.D

Coming to terms with adverse times in life is not an easy feat when taking it on alone. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a therapeutic technique that helps relieve post-traumatic stress (PTSD), depression, anxiety, panic attacks, eating disorders, and addiction. While pain from the past is a vital part of personal development, painful thoughts and memories do not have to remain as a cause of stress forever. It is okay to retain strong negative emotions about something from the past, but allowing it to remain a hindrance to wellness can quickly become a problem. This is where EMDR comes in.

In essence, EMDR entails utilizing REM-based eye-movements when thinking about traumatic memories to aid in processing trauma. One’s recollection of an event does not change; however, one’s perception does. Instead of feeling fearful or weak due to an event, one can feel confident or strong for surviving it (EMDR Institute). The process of EMDR starts with a review of one’s history and healing process. From there, specific memories are chosen and recollected in detail, going all the way to the physical sensations experienced in these memories. Periodically the therapist will ask the subject to identify emotions felt regarding these memories; over time, the sense of distress should fade away (Gotter).

Progress will constantly be evaluated throughout this process. EMDR has been found to significantly reduce PTSD symptoms in the long term with the added benefit of lacking the side effects that come with prescribed medicine. EMDR has a relatively low dropout rate and has not been found to worsen PTSD symptoms during treatment (Gotter).

EMDR is a powerful tool to further one’s wellness by prompting one to process their traumas and gain a more positive outlook on life. While difficult times cannot always be avoided, it is one’s mindset and attitude that allow for growth. There is no need to forget negative experiences, but rather remember them for what they are: the past. The past does not have to hinder anyone indefinitely. It is just as possible to use the past as a source of strength instead of a weakness.


Gotter, Ana. “What You Need to Know About EMDR Therapy.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 15 July 2019,


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Bringing Awareness to Post-traumatic Stress (PTSD)

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(Photo Credit: Pfeiffer)

By Elaine Townsend, Ed.D.

Approximately one in 11 people will have post-traumatic stress (PTSD) in their lifetime, according to the American Psychiatric Association (APA). Individuals with PTSD can have disturbing thoughts and feelings related to a traumatic event. These individuals can avoid situations or others that remind them of the past trauma. Sometimes just learning that a friend or family member died accidentally or suddenly is a trigger. However, not everyone who is exposed to these events is triggered. Most people recover from the fight or flight response to a traumatic event (APA, 2018).

Individuals who experience PTSD can have varying degrees of symptoms from intrusive thoughts, avoiding anything that might remind them of the event, negative thoughts about who they can trust, as well as arousal and reactive symptoms such as angry outbursts, reckless behavior, and feeling startled (APA, 2018).

Military personal are at a greater risk of PTSD, due to being in war zones. Operations Iraqi Freedom had about 11-20 military personal out of 100 suffer from PTSD. Those that served in the Gulf War had 12 out of 100 suffer from PTSD. The Vietnam War had about 15 out of every 100 veterans diagnosed with PTSD in the 1980s. Out of those, about 30 out of 100 will have had PTSD in their lifetime (The Disposable Heroes Project, 2017).

Symptoms experienced by the soldiers included recurring nightmares, sleeplessness, loss of interest, anger or irritability, being always on guard, trouble concentrating and becoming easily startled. Symptoms may not show for months or years after the event (The Disposable Heroes Project, 2017).

Children and teens experience trauma differently. They may wet the bed, forget how to talk, act out scary events and be unusually clingy. Older children may develop disruptive and disrespectful behaviors. This might include thoughts of revenge or feeling that they should have prevented the incident (NIMH, 2016).

Proven treatment for PTSD includes medication and counseling. Also, it helps to seek support from friends, family or a support group where one can respond in an effective manner despite feeling fear. It has been studied that resilience factors can be genetic or neurobiological in nature. Education and learning about the triggers and symptoms are helpful in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT teaches about trauma and how to use relation and anger-control skills. CBT can include exposure therapy, where one faces fear gradually. Also, Cognitive Restructuring helps with looking at trauma without feeling guilt or shame (NIMH, 2016).

Mild activity can reduce stress, along with setting priorities. Some individual’s symptoms improve naturally over time, according to The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH, 2016).

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” – William James


20 Inspiring Quotes to Relieve Stress, Anxiety & Tension (2018). Retrieved from

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (NIMH, 2016). Retrieved from:

Symptoms of PTSD: Learn How to Catch it Early On. (Walker, B. 2017). Retrieved from<Google&utm_medium-CPC&u…

What Is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder? (APA, 2018). Retrieved from

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