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Prince Harry sheds light on EMDR therapy for trauma and anxiety

How therapists say it helps with trauma
Posted at 11:13 AM, Jun 10, 2021

JUPITER, Fla. — Kiersten Miller is three months into EMDR therapy.

“It was something that was a little taboo to say, ‘I need therapy and I need to try something that is not common’ but for me trying that new experience was a little thrilling in a sense,” she said.

The technique formally called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing involves light touch.

“It really brought to light some things I had buried deep inside me and didn’t know I was holding inside me and were bothering me,” she said.

Jenn Tomko, a licensed psychotherapist with Clarity Health Solutions, said she is thrilled the technique has made it into the news. Prince Harry recently talked about how he uses EMDR to help with anxiety and trauma.

“I am over the moon about the fact that Prince Harry is taking about EMDR, because it is not as well known as I would like it to be, because it’s an incredibly powerful technique for most people,” she said.

The therapist doing EMDR needs specialized training and a certification.

“It’s a laborious process,” she said.

Traditionally, Tomko said there is an eye movement back and forth technique that gives a bilateral stimulation.

“For some people who don’t like the eye movements, that you can actually provide a tapping motion in order to get that same experience which is the bilateral stimulation,” she said.

Tomko said essentially it is a different approach to get to the same spot in therapy.

“Nobody knows exactly why this works, but what we do know is that it helps us almost bypass the conscious mind to get to a deeper level of understanding of what is going on,” she said. “The closest thing I can come to is hypnosis but it is not, you are completely coherent and available and there is no trance that you are in, but it does give you a sense of being able to focus wholly on the issue at hand.”

While it involves touch and stimulation, it doesn’t have to be the therapist doing the touching.

“I use hand motions when I am doing it virtually,” she said. “Other people can self tap.”

Miller said it’s a turning point to allow her to reframe her mindset and thinking.

“I live a much happier life, so it’s been incredible,” she said.