How the Brain Holds onto Fear: Using EMDR Therapy to Let Go

As humans, it is easy to remember experiences that scare us. Our brains are built to search for threats and warn us about potential danger. When our bodies feel fear, the amygdala is the part of the brain that is responsible for alerting us to any potential threats.

Research shows that during a traumatic event, our brain has enhanced recollections, meaning that traumatic memories are more vivid. This makes it particularly hard to let go of fear-based or traumatic experiences and why we tend to replay them in our mind and feel it in our body over and over again. This can become an issue when trauma and other difficult experiences overpower the brain’s natural ability to repair. With the help of EMDR therapy, you can override those traumatic experiences and reduce the distressing symptoms that accompany them.

How EMDR Can Help

EMDR is an evidence-based therapy that stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It uses different kind of bi-lateral stimulus, like tapping, sounds, or visual eye movements to serve as a type of distraction for the brain as you are recalling traumatic or anxiety-provoking memories. This allows the memories to be reprocessed and thus deactivating the fight or flight response every time you think about a triggering event.

EMDR has been around since the 1980s and is now widely used. EMDR has been studied in numerous clinical trials and it is shown to have up to an 80% success rate. EMDR is known as a treatment for PTSD and trauma, but EMDR therapy has also been found to effectively treat depression, anxiety, OCD, and phobias.

Neuroscience as a Tool

We use neuroscience as a tool to improve your EMDR therapy outcome. Our understanding of how the brain works helps us to guide you for more success in your EMDR session.

In our practice, we understand the importance of bottom-up processing when it comes to trauma. Bottom-up refers to therapy that works with the lower parts of the brain and the body’s sensations. Typical top-down processing works with thoughts and logic. When we experience trauma, the top parts of our brain may not be working as well as they should, and top-down work is less effective. A bottom-up approach can help manage the hyper-arousal that a traumatized brain can exhibit. We have helped our clients by using an integrative approach to achieve the best outcome.

If you have tried to get rid of anxiety, negative thoughts, or painful memories, you don’t have to stay stuck. Contact us or call 202-656-3376 to discuss EMDR therapy and see if it is right for you. We offer free phone consultations to answer any further questions you may have.