Breakthrough with Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR)
Classical psychotherapies aim to address the psychopathologies an individual possesses in order to reduce their distressing symptoms and improve psychological functioning. However, some psychotherapies exist within the therapeutic world that aim to enhance psychological performance instead of merely treating the symptoms of a particular disorder. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) peak performance protocol is one such intervention in a coaching session. Initially developed to treat trauma-based disorders, EMDR quickly evolved into its performance-enhancing modality when researchers found that patients could use it to reduce distressing symptoms and function better in their daily lives. In the wake of this discovery, EMDR’s breakthrough protocol has amassed a robust pool of supporting evidence demonstrating its success in enhancing performance in sports, business, and performing arts, among other fields (Curdt & Eggleson, 2019; Robson, 2010).
Briefly, standard EDMR is based on the premise all dysfunctional psychological responses, perceptions and attitudes result from the inability of the brain to adequately process a given memory, ultimately leading to distressing symptoms (Shapiro, 2017). Put simply, these unprocessed memories remain isolated from the rest of the memory store containing the emotions, sensations and thoughts present at the time of the traumatic event. To treat this, EMDR targets traumatic memories triggered by current life circumstances and associates them with external stimuli. The external stimuli, which can come in the form of auditory, visual or sensorial form, allows the traumatic memories to be transmuted into functional ones by allowing natural neural processes of memory encoding to occur (Musetti & Magnani, 2018). More specifically, EMDR employs a technique called bi-lateral stimulation that activates both sides of the brain, creating a favorable neural environment for functional memory processes to occur (Castelnuovo et al., 2019).
How to “Breakthrough” using EMDR
Standard EMDR helps to provide a crucial shift in your limiting beliefs and reframe your past traumatic experiences into more functional modalities. Breakthrough EMDR essentially harnesses this process but uses it to reframe any mental blockages that inhibit performance, such as performance anxiety or negative self-esteem, into more confident modes of belief and attitudes. To achieve this, breakthrough EMDR employs two vital therapeutic phases using bi-lateral stimulation, shifting client perspectives from beliefs rooted in the past to opportunities present in the future. These are:
Future outcome orientation phase: During this phase, clients are asked to remove their attention from past events, anchor themselves to the present and cognitively orient their perspectives towards positive future outcomes.
Life and behavior optimization phase: Life and behavior optimization allows the brain to associate these intentions with the clients’ future outcomes. It is through these beliefs that EMDR successfully removes any limiting beliefs and replaces them with optimized self-serving beliefs.
The primary difference between breakthrough EMDR and standard EMDR is the intention of attaining specific psychological goals instead of healing pathological. Research on this novel intervention is extremely promising, and the pool of evidence continues to grow over the years (Curt & Eggleston, 2019; Ricci et al., 2009; Foster, 2019). Furthermore, it is being actively applied in fields such as investment banking, enduring sports, martial arts, and dance, entrepreneurs which all require individuals to be physically able and extremely high performing.
Breakthrough EMDR displays highly generalizable effects as it targets common factors that seem to underlie all aspects of peak performance (Rathschlag & Memmert, 2014). What stops most individuals from achieving peak performance is not the lack of physical strength, intelligence or niche understandings but rather the underlying beliefs and insecurities leading them to think that they are underserved in this state. Hence, this roadblock is effectively removed in Breakthrough interventions to optimize performance whilst new associations are simultaneously integrated within the patient’s mind (Foster, 2012). Undertaking this requires one to identify the root beliefs of their anxiety, targeting and subsequently processing them to create space for new adaptive behaviors to be assimilated (Grand, 2009). Moreover, during the preparation phase of breakthrough EMDR, the patient must identify the presence of their sought-after skills or behaviors as these will be targeted during the processing phase. Essentially, breakthrough EMDR brings the sought-after behaviors to the foreground by eliminating any mental blockages, such as performance anxiety, which may be in its way.
Why Choose Breakthrough EMDR?
Breakthrough EMDR is a tool for individuals to achieve excellence in any field, whether professional, athletic, or personal. Through this intervention, you will identify conscious and subconscious blocks that are in the way of attaining sought-out levels of peak performance. Essentially, it is an intricate technique of rewiring how your brain processes beliefs and perceptions about your underlying capabilities. Throughout its application, breakthrough EMDR has imparted to clients a variety of beneficial outcomes, including (but not limited to):
Heightened Stress Tolerance
Increased Emotional Regulation
Ability to Enter 'Flow-State.'
EMDR is highly efficient and malleable, where clients can tailor the benefits to their predetermined goals set before the intervention's start. All of this is achieved through EMDR's central tenet of cognitively reframing self-perceived limiting beliefs with the integration of novel perspectives.
If you are looking for an efficient and cost-effective method to address particular facets of your life that require improvement, EMDR is an ideal starting point supported by robust evidence throughout scientific literature (Shapiro, 2017; Mussetti & Magnani, 2018). Not only does it address performance deficiencies, but it also serves as a vehicle for positive change that can be maintained throughout your life.
Read more about Breakthrough EMDR
Esther is a trained in EMDR through the The EMDR Institute of Israel. Esther can help you break through your barriers to achieve your goals. Book a session today!
Curdt, A., & Eggleston¹, B. (2019). Efficacy of EMDR in Athletic Traumas.
Castelnuovo, G., Fernandez, I., & Amann, B. L. (2019). Present and future of EMDR in clinical psychology and psychotherapy. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 2185.
Foster, S. L. (2012). Integrating positive psychology applications into the EMDR peak performance protocol. European Review of Applied Psychology, 62(4), 213-217.
Grand, D. (2009). EMDR and performance. R. Shapiro. EMDR Solutions II: For Depression, Eating Disorders, Performance, and More. New York: Norton.
Musetti, A., & Magnani, B. (2018). Highlights on the state of the art of EMDR therapy. Psicoterapia Cognitiva e Comportamentale, 24(2).
Rathschlag, M., & Memmert, D. (2014). Reducing anxiety and enhancing physical performance by using an advanced version of EMDR: a pilot study. Brain and behavior, 4(3), 348-355.
Ricci, R. J., Clayton, C. A., Foster, S., Jarero, I., Litt, B., Artigas, L., & Kamin, S. (2009). Special applications of EMDR: Treatment of performance anxiety, sex offenders, couples, families, and traumatized groups. Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 3(4), 279-288.
Robson, B. E. (2010). Book Review:" Performance Psychology in Action: A Casebook for Working with Athletes, Performing Artists, Business Leaders, and Professionals in High-Risk Occupations" Edited by Kate F. Hays. Medical Problems of Performing Artists, 25(2), 90-90.
Shapiro, F. (2017). Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy: Basic principles, protocols, and procedures. Guilford Publications.