The difference between EMDR Therapy and Talk Therapy

Hi, I'm Kelly O'Horo, and I'm the founder of Infinite Healing & Wellness, an EMDR center for excellence. I'm here to talk to you today about the difference between EMDR therapy and talk therapy. There are two kinds of therapies. We have traditional talk therapy that involves the cognitive part of our brain, and this is where we can learn about our adaptations, we can learn about relationships, communication skills, and understand a little bit more about our histories and our stories, and how that impacts the way we show up today. Talk therapy, doesn't address the bottom-up components of how information is stored in our memory.


Now, bottom-up approaches are related to the neuroscience and cellular storage of how we process information from an adaptive perspective. So as mammals, we are all informed by what we see, what we smell, what we taste, what we sense, and the interactions in our relationships. Our brain processes that information, and it determines whether things are safe or unsafe and that can be from actual physical danger types of things to emotional and relational type danger, like rejection, abandonment, and neglect. Our body takes in information, and then, in real time, in present time, we are taking the data that we see, and it goes through and filters through our amygdala, into our limbic system, and we then determine whether we are safe or not and that happens so very quickly. It happens in the limbic system, 1 million times faster than anything that we can think about. And so bottom-up therapies, EMDR therapy specifically today, address how our bodies perceive information and then how they react in real time.


What most clients talk about is how frustrated they get when they know better about how to show up, but then they can't just act better. So, we work with the EMDR therapy to change our reactions that are historical, if they're hysterical, and turn them into slow enough responses so that they match today's present information. We want to slow things down with EMDR therapy, use bottom-up approaches with the EMDR therapy protocol, and address the cellular storage of traumatically informed material. Unfortunately, we can't do that with talk therapy. So, if we want to change forever adaptations that are no longer helpful, we have to use bottom-up therapies in order to address those issues.




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