EMDR, Mind/Body Approach, Weight Loss and Eating Disorders (http://www.mindfulyoutherapy.com)
To really understand what is vital to weight loss, we have to take a holistic mind/body approach. Current research provides more evidence that our physiological health, immunity and mental well-being are interdependent. For example, the neurochemicals responsible for emotional processing bind to receptor cell sites all over our body. Renowned researcher Candace Pert suggests that this means our body is actually our subconscious mind! When you consider that our gut is populated with huge clusters of receptors for emotional processing, the importance of a mind/body integrated approach to healing becomes ever more clear.
Dr. Bruce Lipton is leading the way in the field of ‘epigenetics, ’ which is showing that unlike previously thought, our DNA is not ‘locked’ in a predetermined mode in our cells. Rather, it is affected by external stimuli–including thoughts–which shape how genetic cellular information is released. In other words, we don’t necessarily inherit our body shape, disease or other factors genetically!
When it comes to a psychotherapy approach to addressing weight issues, it is crucial to examine how our current perception/feeling about ourselves is being ‘distorted’ by past experiences. While we tend to think of ‘trauma’ as being involved in life-threatening situations, psychological research is also now confirming that disorders such as depression and anxiety are the result of cumulative negative small ‘t’ traumas built up over time. Our system experiences trauma as any overwhelm to equilibrium, and when we face these situations, our natural response is to go into a limbic or ‘fight or flight’ reaction. Unfortunately, when this happens, we lose the ability to ‘finish’ with the event, and it stays ‘frozen’ in our nervous system, getting continuously re-triggered by present situations. Thus, our ability to shed old overwhelm to the system is often reflected in our physical condition–sometimes it simply means we ‘armour’ ourselves unconsciously with layers of extra body fat.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a highly effective mind/body approach that heals these past traumas, and quickly allows for self-healing in the present. Simply put, by safely connecting to past events pinpointed by the therapist, the client can ‘finish’ processing the stuck physiological experience and come back to equilibrium in the present. Thus, their entire system can come back into balance–shutting off the old alarms (stress hormones, etc) and letting their body function normally. One crucial element involved is the stress hormone Cortisol. When a person is triggered into an old trauma state, the Cortisol is activated–this hormone causes a person to not only crave carbohydrates to compensate for feelings of panic or depression, but also stores fat in the body!
EMDR is the most researched and clinically tested therapy approach to date for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. When you consider this, applying it to body weight/image issues makes it a very powerful tool for helping a person connect with positive beliefs and to take action to better their life in every way.
Michael Gordon, MSc, EMDR
Director, Mindful You Therapy Clinic