(EMDR) Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
What is EMDR?
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. EMDR therapy incorporates eye movements or other bilateral stimulation into a comprehensive approach that processes and releases information trapped in the mind and body, freeing people from disturbing images and body sensations, debilitating emotions, and restrictive beliefs. This revolutionary therapy has helped millions of clients of all ages recover from such traumas as war, accidents, assaults, disasters, and childhood abuse. EMDR has been extensively researched as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and is considered to be an evidence-based therapy.
In addition to the treatment of PTSD, EMDR is also used to treat the psychological effects of smaller traumas that manifest in symptoms of depression, anxiety, phobias, low self-esteem, creativity blocks, and relationship difficulties. Not only does healing occur much more rapidly than in traditional therapy, but as a result of EMDR’s clearing of emotional and physical blockages, many people also experience a sense of joy, openness, and deep connection with others. EMDR is a quantum leap in the human ability to heal trauma and maladaptive beliefs.
How does EMDR Work?
No one knows how any form of psychotherapy works neurobiologically or in the brain. However, we do know that when a person is very upset, their brain cannot process information as it does ordinarily. One moment becomes “frozen in time,” and remembering a trauma may feel as bad as going through it the first time because the images, sounds, smells, and feelings haven’t changed. Such memories have a lasting negative effect that interferes with the way a person sees the world and the way they relate to other people.
EMDR seems to have a direct effect on the way that the brain processes information. Normal information processing is resumed, so following a successful EMDR session; a person no longer relives the images, sounds, and feelings when the event is brought to mind. You still remember what happened, but it is less upsetting. Many types of therapy have similar goals. However, EMDR appears to be similar to what occurs naturally during dreaming or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Therefore, EMDR can be thought of as a physiologically based therapy that helps a person see disturbing material in a new and less distressing way.
What kind of problems can EMDR treat?
Scientific research has established EMDR as effective for posttraumatic stress. However, clinicians also have reported success using EMDR in treatment of the following conditions:
- Panic attacks
- Complicated grief
- Dissociative disorders
- Disturbing memories
- Pain disorders
- Performance anxiety
- Stress reduction
- Sexual and/or Physical abuse
- Body dysmorphic disorders
- Personality Disorders