Non-Judgment in EMDR

At MBHA, one of the cornerstones to treatment is an EMDR-infused philosophy that honors the body and the emotions of one’s past experiences while simultaneously keeping one foot in the present moment. 

When trauma occurs, the brain responds by becoming hyper-vigilant or “stuck” in accessing (read: judging) if a threat is present, and to make up for the extra awareness the observing part of the brain becomes underdeveloped. In EMDR treatment, we spend time in a resourcing stage so that the person can feel grounded in a sense of safety. The process involves looking in on the past from the present – not recreating the past. 

One of the challenges of EMDR is when the judging brain wants to take over, often experienced as a client asks “am I doing this right?” The process necessitates witnessing instead of judging. The brain moves from labeling a moment to witnessing the moment and examining the feelings and emotions that arise. 

Treatments like EMDR work to develop the underdeveloped observing brain by safely noticing what’s happening in the moment. They can feel safe, aware they’re sitting in a space with a person they trust, while still tuning into the sensations of the body, and the emotions that arise while a person calls up the memory. As we enhance the brain’s ability to do that – to observe the reactions of our body and emotions, it’s possible to get more practiced at removing the element of judgment from our day-to-day experience.

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