What is EMDR?
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR, is a powerful psychotherapy technique which has been very successful in helping people who suffer from trauma, anxiety, panic, disturbing memories, post traumatic stress and many other emotional problems.
EMDR therapy uses bilateral stimulation, right/left eye movement, which repeatly activates the opposite sides of the brain, releasing emotional experiences that are "trapped" in the nervous system. This assists the neurophysiological system, the basis of the mind/body connection, to free itself of blockages and reconnect itself.
As troubling images and feelings are processed by the brain via the eye-movement patterns of EMDR, resolution of the issues and a more peaceful state of mind are achieved.
Who discovered EMDR?
In the late 80's, psychologist Francine Shapiro, Ph.D., observed that particular eye movements reduced the intensity of disturbing thoughts in some clients. Dr. Shapiro decided to study this effect scientifically. In 1989, she reported her success using a method she called EMDR to treat victims of trauma in the Journal of Traumatic Stress. Since that time, other therapists around the world have contributed to its development. EMDR has evolved into a highly effective technique that incorporate elements from various other treatment modalities.
How does EMDR work?
When disturbing experiences happen, they are stored in the brain with all the sights, sounds, thoughts and feelings that accompany it. When a person is very upset, the brain seems to be unable to process the experience as it would normally. Therefore, the negative thoughts and feelings of the traumatic event are "trapped" in the nervous system. Since the brain cannot process these highly charged experiences effectively, the experience and/or it's accompanying feelings are often suppressed from consciousness. However, the distress lives on in the nervous system where it causes disturbances in the emotional functioning of the person. Even though the experience may have happened long ago, the nervous system reacts as if the event were happening now. In effect, the past stays in the present.
The EMDR Technique does two very important things. First, it "unlocks" the negative memories and emotions stored in the nervous system, and second, it helps the brain to successfully process the experience, so it no longer has an effect in the present.
The therapist works gently with the client, guiding him or her to recall the traumatic incident. When the memory is brought to mind, the feelings are re-experienced in a new way. EMDR makes it possible to gain the self-knowledge and perspective that will enable the client to choose their actions, rather than feeling powerless over their re-actions. This process can be complex if there are many experiences connected to the negative feelings. The EMDR therapy sessions continue until the traumatic memories and emotions are relieved.
What are the advantages of EMDR Therapy?
Research studies show that EMDR is very effective in helping people process emotionally painful and traumatic experiences. When used in conjunction with other therapy modalities, EMDR helps move the client quickly from emotional distress to peaceful resolution of the issues or events involved.
EMDR sessions can work amazingly fast. Processing even the most difficult memories can be achieved in a fraction of the time it would have taken with traditional therapy.
Traditional therapies often focus on memories from the unconscious mind, and then analyze their meaning to gain insight into the problem. EMDR clients also acquire valuable insights during therapy, but EMDR can short-cut the process and go right to the releasing stage.
The positive, long-term results of EMDR therapy affect all levels of the client's well-being -- mental, emotional and physical, so that their responses return to normalcy and health.
Studies consistently show that treatment with EMDR results in elimination of the targeted emotion . The memory remains, but the negative response is neutralized.
What issues are helped by EMDR?
The studies to date show a high degree of effectiveness with the following conditions:
|loss of a loved one
injury of a loved one
witness to violence
victims of violent crimes
anxiety or panic
post traumatic stress
brooding or worrying
The EMDR technique is most effective when used in conjunction with other traditional methods of therapy in treating these and many other emotional disorders.
EMDR therapy can help clients replace their anxiety and fear with positive images, emotions and thoughts.
Who can be helped by EMDR?
People who have experienced or witnessed violence, disasters, crimes, sexual assault and other traumas, victims of crime and professionals such as police, emergency workers and firefighters; accident victims and anyone who has experienced a serious loss (such as the death of a close friend of family member, divorce, etc.). EMDR is also very effective treatment for people suffering from phobias--fear of flying, water, spiders, etc.
Because EMDR has the power to relieve any type of emotional block or fear, It can also be used to enhance the performance of athletes, actors, musicians, students, public speakers and executives.