I am a trained EMDR therapist (member of EMDRIA, the world governing body for EMDR practitioners) and happy to explain to you how this therapy can help you with many different types of problems.
EMDR has been recognized as a scientifically effective and evidence-based treatment by the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of health and Human Services and many more.
What Can EMDR Do for You: Managing Your Pain Better with EMDR
The impact of EMDR on emotional distress of all varieties has been well researched. It can help you if you are suffering from trauma, anxiety, depression, phobias and so on. All of this has been documented in the literature for decades now. But not many people are aware that EMDR has been successfully shown to help people trying to cope with chronic or recurring pain. How can a non-medical therapeutic technique relieve a physical sensation?!
Physicians treat pain in a variety of ways: oral medications, surgery, AND with alternative procedures such as biofeedback, hypnosis, massage therapy, and acupuncture.
What may not be widely known is that pain is something felt and perceived in the brain.
Consider, suppose you stub your toe on a chair or whack your elbow on a table. Ouch! The part of your toe or your elbow that is hurt has nerve endings in it that detect all sorts of things both bad and good, such as heat, cold, a light breeze on your skin, pressure from a touch, and big time shocks such as ramming furniture with a body part.
But does a patient knocked out by medicine for surgery feel pain? Tissue is definitely being damaged, but the patient feels nothing. Because, unless your brain is able to process information from the tissues, there is no pain. It is a conscious experience. We become aware of pain by messages sent from our brain. They tell us where the pain is located and begin the process of attaching meaning to the pain such as “will I be able to work” “is this return of the cancer?” And you are motivated to do something: grab some ice, put a dressing on the injury, or call 911 because of these messages.
However, the brain sometimes gets tricked and thinks the body is in danger even when it isn’t. While working in a hospital I witnessed this with amputees. A painful limb may have been removed years ago, but pain is still being felt where the leg or arm used to be.
Or sometimes, we become more sensitive to the same amount of pain, like when you wear a path going back and forth to your neighbor’s house. The more times we feel a certain type of pain, the easier it is to feel it, like a groove being worn into the fabric of your brain.
You may have heard the phrase that neurons that fire together wire together. This is like when your mouth begins to water when you see a picture of your favorite food. No food is present, no delicious aroma, no option to put it in your mouth, but your body reacts as if all that is possible.
Pain can be caused in the same way. Maybe your work has triggered pain in the past, by lifting boxes or being hunched over a keyboard. At some point, your brain associates work with pain so that you might start to feel pain just by arriving at work or thinking about going to work. Job dissatisfaction is a huge predictor of back pain. Plus, strong emotions such as anger and anxiety will reduce pain tolerance. How much pain you can bear goes down.
What does this have to do with EMDR? It is now generally accepted that chronic pain is caused by a combination of physical and psychological factors and that the best approach is multidisciplinary and includes psychological treatment (Fordyce, 1976; Gatchel & Turk, 1996; Turk & Meichenbaum, 1989). Research over the past 20 years indicates an approach combining traditional treatment with EMDR can be very effective at improving quality of life and decreasing perception of pain. (J Clin Psychol. 2002 Dec;58(12):1505-20.)
Want to talk about whether you are a good candidate for this? Call for a free 15-minute phone consult.