EMDR and Safe Places

by Christine Hassell on July 1, 2013

EMDR for anxiety and hopelessnessCan you imagine a place where you feel perfectly safe?  If you try to imagine one, do you find that every attempt to imagine such a thing triggers intrusive images that produce feelings of anxiety or  hopelessness?  You are not alone if you find it difficult to recall even a single experience in which you could be vulnerable and safe at the same time.

In therapy, when such is the case, therapists help you cultivate safety within. Sometimes, we use a modality called EMDR to help make safety in vulnerability a reality for you.  We ask you to imagine any place you choose.  It could be a beach, or an ocean with clean, fresh air, or the mountains, with a stream. Any place is perfectly fine.  As this imagining happens, we use EMDR to juxtapose the safety and security you access while sitting in the chair  with the newly forming image of beach, or ocean or mountains, etc.  Of course, it’s a bit more involved and there is a protocol at play but that’s the gist of it.

The Brain and EMDR

The neurological effects of EMDR stimulate collaboration across a special part of the brain called the corpus callosum.  It’s the piece of tissue that separates the right hemisphere from the left hemisphere. When we send electrical signals across that part of the brain, we put the logical and analytical parts of the brain more in touch with the creative and intuitive parts of the brain.  This helps you relax and be more receptive to taking in experiences and possibilities that may not quite mesh with the reality of your past but, would serve you as a healthy internal resource to go to in the future.

The safe place of an “inner sanctum” is something that individuals who have suffered trauma tend to find missing in their lives. It is an aspect of post traumatic stress and it can be healed.  While it can beg a tremendous leap of faith, creating a felt sense of inner safety is a foundational aspect of healing mental and emotional stress.

If you’d like to use EMDR to help you develop both a sense of safety in the context of vulnerability and,  a stronger, more centered sense of self, I’d love to help!

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