What is EMDR?

What is EMDR?

EMDR, or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, is an integrative psychotherapy approach for treating trauma, as well as a number of conditions ranging from performance anxiety to phobias.

Treatment with EMDR accesses target memories and events that you haven’t fully processed. These memories may feel like they are still happening in real time, such as with PTSD. For example, if someone was in a car accident or had a terrible breakup, you can access those memory channels and clear them with EMDR.  After processing, when you reflect back on these memories, they will no longer trigger difficult emotions or sensations in the body, almost like a photograph that has faded over time, rather than a moving image.  

Are there tools from EMDR that I can use in my everyday life?

We often have a reaction to a small event that is out of proportion to what is really happening, for example someone cuts you off in line or your friend doesn’t get back to you quickly enough. In that moment, I would take a moment to check in or “float back” to the earliest time that you remember feeling the same way. It often helps to scan through the sensations in your body—like beating heart, clench in the belly, etc. You may suddenly remember that time your teacher embarrassed you in front of the class, or some other mistreatment. This is an indication that you have a memory from your past that still needs to be processed.

One tool that is effective to use on your own is called “resource tapping” in which you bring to mind a beautiful place that creates calm, such as the beach or somewhere in nature, or being with someone you love. You can use the “butterfly hug”, where you give yourself a hug and tap 12 sets on your upper arms—right, left, right, left, etc. to reduce and calm down the stress you are feeling. To reprocess a difficult or traumatic memory from your past, I would recommend finding a licensed clinician to guide you through this process.

What are 3 books that you would recommend to someone who is going through a difficult time?

PEMA CHODRON, When Things Fall Apart

Dr. Kristin Neff, Self-Compassion

Dalai Lama, DeSMOND TUTU, DOUGLAS ABRAMS, The book of Joy


If a person is suffering from social anxiety, how would you help them?

Many people suffer from social anxiety, so you can know that you are not alone! I would encourage people who feel this way to expose themselves to as many different social situations as possible. Be sure to progress slowly and you will build confidence and coping skills over time. Every time you notice a judgmental thought come up about yourself when you are in a social situation, such as “Why did I say that? They must think I’m so stupid!” to be kind to yourself with some self compassion. Remember that it’s just a thought, not a fact, (we are not mind readers), and everyone struggles with self-criticism. Then, offer yourself a kind thought or suggestion such as “May I be at ease.”


What does changing cognitions mean? How do you do this?

We can recognize that our beliefs about ourselves are often a cognitive distortion, and we are not experiencing our deepest self or life for that matter, as it truly is. With a shift in perspective, we can see that thoughts are not facts and challenge ourselves to view ourselves or the situation in a different way, even perhaps to see a silver lining!


How has dedicating your life and career toward practicing and teaching mindful self compassion effected or changed your life?

When I was in graduate school for psychology, my daughter was only 2 years old and it was extremely difficult to keep all of the balls in the air. I was introduced to self-compassion practice at that time and I realized that it gave so much more space. I could be present and kind to all aspects of myself, even the imperfect mess that I had been beating myself up about. It was a game changer for me, and since then for many of my clients and loved ones which is such a reward in and of itself.

Originally Posted on Damsel in Dior

Kathryn Lubow