Eye Movement May Be Able To Heal Our Traumas | Tricia Walsh | TEDxUCDavisSF

Translator: Ana Birsa
Reviewer: Ellen Maloney Hello. My name is Tricia, and I am an adult child of an alcoholic. When I recall my childhood, I can remember that my father
loved me very deeply, and he would do anything for our family. However, he suffered from major depression
and childhood trauma. He was an immigrant, who was financially struggling
to support our family. And he was in pursuit
of the American Dream. He often felt that he was failing, and as a result, he would drink heavily. And when he did, he would be emotionally
abusive to my mother and to me. At home, I would feel scared and unsafe. I so desperately wanted
my father to be happy again and I could not fix this. And this pain would be so deep within me that I would hide within myself, and I would escape,
in my books, my academics and my theater arts in hopes that I would find safety there. (Sighs) My greatest fear in school
was what if kids really knew what was happening at home, would they still like me? And this would lead me into a never ending
negative-thinking loop that would sound a lot like this: “There is something wrong with me,
I am not good enough, and I am not safe.” These beliefs would affect me for the rest of my life, even into my adulthood. See, my conclusion was: how can I make meaningful
relationships with others, if I can’t even connect
to my whole self? So, it was around this time I decided to begin my own
therapy sessions. It was in – actually – my early 20s. My therapist and I began to work
on my childhood traumas. We made great accomplishments together, but I continued to feel shame
for what happened in the past. It was around this time I was preparing for my oral examination which is required for obtaining
my Master’s Degree in Graduate School. I was experiencing
some of the worst anxiety I had ever felt my entire life. I couldn’t take it anymore, and, I asked her: “There has got to be another way.” And she recommended a new therapy. EMDR. Eye Movement
Desensitization Reprocessing. I have never heard this before,
but I was willing to try anything. Within four EMDR sessions, my anxiety was disappearing. I was experiencing powerful insights that I had never experienced
before in previous sessions, and I was healing rapidly. Have you ever seen something so beautiful that it left you speechless? That is how I felt about EMDR. I wanted to know everything about it, where it came from, how it came to exist, and how could I begin to use this in my own therapy sessions
with my clients. See,I had considered this knowledge a gift that I wanted to continue to pay forward and I’m compelled today to share with you my own personal story
of how EMDR has allowed me to heal from my own childhood traumas. But before I do this,
I would like to talk with you about EMDR and how it came to exist. In 1987 Dr. Francine Shapiro discovered EMDR during a time that she
was battling cancer. She was on a walk and she observed that her disturbing thoughts
were disappearing. She had not done this deliberately, but the moment of reflection, she realized her eyes were rapidly moving. So she came up with a theory: bilateral movement, eyes moving from left to right, would allow for disturbing memories to be seen in new
and less distressful ways. Now research studies are currently showing that eye movement in EMDR resembles the same process as REM sleep: Rapid Eye Movement. REM occurs in the same
stage of sleep as dreaming. And although the exact mechanisms are not well understood at this time, scientists believe that this is where
the brain can store memories, interpret lessons, balance, moods, and coincidentally, it can process survival information that typically comes from
traumatic experiences. But unlike REM, the mind is completely awake during EMDR therapy, which allows for clients to be able to process and access complexities of their traumas. So now that you know what EMDR is I’d like to talk with you about my own very personal experience, of what it was like, to go through an EMDR session. So, you may be wondering
why I have that backpack, right? It is a simple backpack,
one that we see all the time, it is very easy to dismiss. But this backpack was one of the very first
vivid images that I saw on the first time that
I had my EMDR session. My therapist asked me to recall my worst performance anxiety with the use of bilateral movement. And just like a flashback, I was a sophomore, in High School, about to give my final monologue on stage, and I was in front of my drama class. I was excited, expecting support, delivering my lines … And then I was interrupted by the sounds of whispering. Laughter. And snickering. I felt horrified that day. And I told myself I would never
go back on stage again. (Sighs) Because it proved exactly what I thought was true
about myself, this; “I wasn’t good enouugh. There was something wrong with me. It would also be a reminder that I did not feel safe and I didn’t feel protected by my teacher in the same way I felt towards my father, at home. And then it would hit me, all at once: this backpack was symbolic of lost childhood innocence. I felt like I lost
the theatre arts that day, the same way I felt like
I lost my dad to alcohol. And I felt no longer that shame of: “I was just a kid.” I was trying to fit in and belong, in school. Just like it wasn’t my fault, that my dad was an alcoholic. And this would be a powerful insight that would be life-changing for me to recognise this as finally
I was able to confront my negative-thinking loop. It was a visceral experience. So you can imagine, after experiencing my EMDR session, I was convinced, I wanted to use this with my own clients and so I began to be trained
and certified in EMDR. I used it in my private practice and my clients would
experience great healing as a result of this, this therapy. But I began to observe a clear pattern that was occurring. My clients would consistently come in and deny that they had any of traumas they needed to work on when in fact, they always did. And so I have come up with my own theory and that is: we will all experience a trauma, at some point in our lifetime. The American Psychological Association defines trauma as an emotional response to a terrible event. A terrible event can be
a life-threatening moment such as combat, an accident, or rape. As well as a loss of a loved one, a loss of a job, or even a significant break up. And … from a physiological standpoint when you look at trauma, our bodies will automatically go into fight, flight, faint and freeze mode and our brains will then
memorize every aspect of the perceived trauma, taking in those five senses to protect us from having to ever experience that
perceived danger ever again. When you think about it, that is exactly
what happened to me, in my body. My body and my brain, I was going into this neverending
negative-thinking loop. The only difference this time was bilateral movement was being introduced that helped me to finally gain control
of my entire nervous system. My childhood traumas have caused me to disconnect from my whole-self, making it difficult for me to have
meaningful relationships with others. In my first EMDR session I discovered that my body, my brain and my eyes could heal me. I was healing me. And if this was possible, this proved that in fact there was nothing wrong with me. That I could heal myself, and this was significant to realize that there was, in fact, not only nothing wrong with me, that it was not my fault. The same way that all children deserve to feel safe
at home and at school, I deserved that as well. And in realizing this I would have genuine love
and forgiveness for all parts of myself, the traumatized self included. So, I leave you with these final thoughts: I am an adult child of an alcoholic, and I will no longer
be defined by my past traumas. I do believe that we will experience a trauma at some point in our lifetime. But, I also believe that we have the capability
[for] incredible, tremendous healing. I have seen it with my very own eyes, as a client, and as a therapist. And so, with that, I ask each of you if we were all to choose to process our most traumatized memories and instead found our most kind
and compassionate selves, I wonder what you would see. I also wonder how different our world might be. Thank you so much. (Applause) (Cheers)


  1. You can tell a lot of healing has gone on with her to be able to say "His actions were wrong" but be able to be loving and understanding to him.

  2. I wonder if REM sleep, EMDR and dyslexia are all related? I wonder if my problems comprehending things I try and read stem from the rapid eye movement when my eyes jump all around the page? Maybe my rapid eye movement during reading is a result of layers of childhood trauma? Maybe dyslexia is a symptom of childhood trauma? I wish I could get good help for this but everyone seem tied to the whipping post of insurance. It seems insurances don't like paying out for emotional help and I can't afford help without it. I'm 58 and I just want to leave it all behind. I want to be able to move on without the tax burden of what I had no control of, from when I was in the care of the people responsible for me.

  3. totally believe in EMDR, props to Tricia for standing up in front of a crowd and giving a public speech, some humor would go a long way to relieve the tension though

  4. I would like to know if there are any viewers out there who have healed themselves with the help of EMDR videos (and if yes, can recommend one/some). I know, that doing it with a therapist is recommended (please do not emphasize this, if you comment, I am thoroughly aware of this!) – but it is not possible for everybody to get professional help.

  5. I'm from Australia and had this type of therapy (without knowing what was really going to happen) and after my first session I was skeptical because it was AMAZING….. I didn't want to get my hopes up and thus waited until more sessions to finally admit that this is consistent and fantastic therapy. I have told MANY people about it and unfortunately they have no idea what I'm talking about and clearly don't comprehend how amazing it is. Whatever you have buried deep inside of you (whether you are aware of it being there or not) is somehow brought forward, made vivid and then LET GO.

    "I could heal myself", "it wasn't my fault", these insights are why EMDR is amazing.

  6. How much is she paid? She seems like she is pushing it to hard, I don't think that helped her. Seems like a saleswoman.

  7. Hi very interesting talk, showing the power of EMDR! I am a starting EMDR therapist and would love to have the transcript of this talk. Do you know where can I find it? Greetings, Mirena

  8. You are an excellent speaker! I am just about to start training in EMDR. Thank you so much for this video and your talk. I will refer to it again and again

  9. The part about the emotion connection is so strong especially considering my personality and being an empath with ADD.

  10. I am getting EMDR for a second issue now. For my first EMDR experience, it was amazing to help me through my father's death as a child

  11. It's all subjective. A terrible event can also be the loss of a pet. I found that after lengthy trauma (EMDR) therapy with a therapist I still needed to do a lot of Emotional Self Management. Perhaps for life? I found the book Acupressure for the Emotions (incorporating EMDR) really good. It was recommended to me by my doctor.

  12. Lots of touchy feely bs here. If it works explain the process. All I heard was how you moved past embarrassing and stressful events. I wouldn't say it was par with combat in a war zone but I'm sure it sucked. Not a very scientific presentation though.

  13. after suffering from anxiety, depression from the time I was 8 and later I found out that it was c-ptsd, it is gone thanks to EMDR.
    I did talk therapy, was hospitalized, had suicide attempts and had given up completely because nothing made me feel better.
    6 months of EMDR and my life was saved.
    Please anyone who is suffering from trauma get there and do it.
    It works

  14. WOW. My therapist is quitting to open his own EMDR office, and I was curious, but watching more of these YouTube people, makes me want to see what he has to offer me 🙂 thank you for the videos and explanations!

  15. I still don't get how this works though. I do therapy and take psych meds and go to self help groups, which all generally help my depression/addiction/anxiety. I don't get how just moving your eyes back and forth help you overcome mental illness..

  16. I've had mixed results. I'm beginning to suspect that the effectiveness of EMDR is in part determined by your perception of trauma.
    My mother hated men and hated children. At 53, CPTSD was diagnosed from childhood which I never had any clue I had. EMDR was used to uncover a bad beating I took at a pre-verbal age. I know it was bad because I got to relive the wacks to the head and spent a week limping from a none existent leg injury. The EMDR immediately cleared up rage issues related to PTSD but all of the "trauma Attachment" issues remain. The automatic Negative thoughts and trust issues are completely out of control. The need for escape routes and hiding places is still very present.
    I think the key was that I wasn't aware I suffered trauma. When I was having my head rammed against walls as a 9 year old, I didn't know I was being abused, "that's what every kid got for being bad" from my perspective. I'm not ashamed by it or really hurt by it, that's just how it was. But the symptoms of "Trauma Attachment" are very real and now that I've been taught to recognize them, I can see I suffer from them all the time even after 3.5 YEARS of bi-weekly Trauma therapy treatment with EMDR.

  17. I picked up EMDR after suffering from a collapsed lung a while back and it has helped greatly. I highly suggest others give it a try!

  18. I was kidnapped when I was 29, I'm now 36. I have a lot of issues and just started therapy for the first time. My therapist told me I need EMDR and she has high hopes that it will give me back the person I used to be.

  19. Few minutes of this video just reminded me of my childhood.It’s like “flashback” !!! How can I get the EMDR Therapy? I’ve been traumatized for more than 2 decades on a regular basis.

  20. I found it interesting that the past can still hurts us even if it’s not there anymore,even if the people who caused us pains have been forgiven.I do want to forget my past but it seems like it’s a part of my memory and everytime I would remember it,I can’t help but feel helpless as if I am a child again as if I reliving it again.

  21. This was great but ummmm…the whole inhalation/stress breathing she is doing is kind of……I don't know! It's kind of what Trump does. But not to take away from her message. It is great!

  22. "It proved exactly what I thought was true about myself. I wasn't good enough there was something wrong with me. It was also a reminder that I didn't feel safe. I didn't feel protected by my teacher in the same way I felt towards my father at home." ❤

  23. Have they done the study where they have one group do EMDR without the eye movements and one group with? When I was trained, they hadn't done that study yet…The rest of EMDR is solid CBT w/ mindfullness. I'm not convinced the eye movements do anything…

  24. I appreciate that she is sharing her story. I don't believe in therapy, God The Father wants us to bring all our pain all our past, everything we are dealing with to Him. For thousands of years there was no therapist to go see. God wants to take our burdens and fears and truly relieve them, once and for all. Joseph in the bible in Genesis 35-50 was sold into slavery by his brothers, later falsely accused by a woman and thrown into the jail. He clearly and completely dealt with his hurt and pain, to be able to truly forgive them. There is a better more effective way then paying someone for years to talk about and work through your problems and traumas. Jesus Christ came to set the captives free and heal the broken hearted.

  25. EMDR is a powerful and effective tool. Therapists should screen for dissociative disorders first, however, and seek training in protocols for such. Dissociation and repeated, severe trauma backgrounds require careful handling.

  26. When she shared about her experience and declared that every PART of her had benefited, it reminded me of another highly effective treatment for trauma; IFS or Internal Family Systems, also known as Partswork.

  27. I had PTSD 30 years after a traumatic event when I finally told my parents the story. I then saw a therapist for EMDR sessions for 3 months. A miraculous release for me! However during this therapy, I had a tendency to experience re-traumatisation. I was very vulnerable to experiencing trauma echoes.

  28. Why is it still hosted if it doesn't meet TED guidelines? EMDR isn't a miracle treatment, but it deserves a better (scientific rather than case study) presentation than this

  29. My story is somewhat similar to hers and I will be starting my first session of EMDR in the next 3 days. Wish me luck!
    Update: it actually works I'm actually very impressed I cant wait to go to my next therapy session!
    If u are struggling with PTSD I'm imploring you to give it a shot!

  30. While her testimony is compelling, her delivery makes her look like a acting student her first time on the stage. That is what I don't like about TEDx talks. It looks like they select their speakers on how entertaining they are instead of how interesting the topic exposed is.

  31. i had emdr after my deployment and so I did ptsd for 3 minutes and all the emsd was gone in like hours of doing pmdr treatments.

  32. Agree that this talk is not as rigorous in it's standards, which is too bad: it is just a qualitative description of her personal experience. Those who'd like to read more about trauma and healing might find this book useful: he describes several powerful techniques for traumatized people to heal. _The Body Keeps the Score_, by Bessel van der Kolk.

  33. Bravo Trish. I applaud your courage for telling your story on such a public forum, ripe with naysayers. Healing happens. Glad you found yours and that you are bringing it to others.

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