Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy approach that was developed in 1989. EMDR is an evidence based practice that was originally used to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. EMDR is not a hypnosis therapy and in fact, it is vital that while using EMDR therapy, the client is able to stay present.
How Does EMDR Therapy Work?
It is unclear how any form of psychotherapy works neurobiologically; however, it is clear that when a person is very upset, the brain processes information differently than when a person is not. After experiencing trauma, images, smells, sounds, and feelings may still be prevalent which interferes with our daily functioning and how we see the world. After processing with Bilateral Stimulation such as eye movement, tappers, tapping, etc , a person no longer relives the images, smells, sounds, and feelings when the event is brought to mind. EMDR will not make you forget about the disturbing event but it does make it less distressing.
What kind of Conditions can EMDR treat?
- Dissociative Disorders
- Sexual and/or Physical Abuse
- Pain Disorder
- Stress Reduction
- Eating Disorders
- Personality Disorders
- Panic Attacks
- Complicated Grief
- Body Dysmorphic Disorders
- Disturbing Memories
What does an EMDR Session Look Like?
After identifying a calm place and other healthy coping skills, the therapist works with the client to identify a problem to process while using Bilateral Stimulation. The client brings up images, feelings, or thoughts about the disturbing issue or event. The client identifies what thoughts and beliefs they have about that event now and using the identified Bilateral Stimulation the processing begins. The therapist will facilitate the Bilateral Stimulation while the client focuses on the distressing thoughts/feelings. It is crucial for the client to allow their brain to do what it needs to do by just noticing whatever comes to mind without making any effort to control direction or content. Bilateral Stimulation continues until the issue/event becomes less disturbing and is associated with positive beliefs about one self.
How long does EMDR take?
When clients ask this question, they seem to want a specific number of treatment sessions; however, the type of problem, life circumstances, and past issues will determine how many sessions are necessary. EMDR can be used as an adjunctive therapy with a different therapist or as a treatment all by itself.
Does EMDR really work?
EMDR is an evidence based practice that has proven to decrease PTSD, Anxiety, and Depression symptoms. EMDR was found to be effective treatment with the following organizations which include but not limited to; The American Psychiatric Association, International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense, the United Kingdom Department of Health, the Israeli National Council for Mental Health, The National Registry (NREPP) of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) (emdria.org)