EMDR is the acronym for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. In the late 1980’s Dr. Francine Shapiro discovered by accident that when she moved her eyes in a certain way, negative feelings associated with disturbing memories diminished. After years of research and fine tuning EMDR was born. The procedure is highly effective and produces rapid results for a variety of treatment issues related to trauma anxiety and stress.
When something traumatic happens, the memory of it can get locked in the nervous system along with the sights, sounds, thoughts and feelings associated with the incident. When the brain cannot properly process these emotions they continue to cause disturbances in the emotional functioning of the person.
EMDR is best used in the context of a trusting therapeutic relationship. The first step is to evaluate the client’s support network and ability to self soothe and if necessary, teach relaxation skills to prepare the client for any residual processing that may occur in between sessions. During an EMDR session, the client is asked to focus on the most upsetting aspect or snapshot of the event and the negative cognition associated with it such as “It was my fault”, while the therapist provides bilateral stimulation in the form of eye movements, tapping or tones. This stimulates the body’s natural healing process. It is like a train that has begun rolling down the tracks. After each bilateral stimulation, the client is asked what has happened. The therapist assesses the progress and then the process continues until the distress level has decreased, the trauma has been processed, and there is a new positive cognition in place, such as, “I did the best I could”. Usually associated material will surface and the therapist will continue to target each memory, belief and / or sensation in this same way until it is completely processed. At this point the train has reached the end of the tracks. The disturbing memories or no longer troublesome and there is a healthy perspective in place.
Extensive scientific research has shown that EMDR is the most effective and time efficient method for healing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Research studies and clinical evidence indicate that EMDR is also highly effective with other conditions such as: anxiety, depression, phobias, addictions and panic disorders, physical and sexual abuse, accidents and injuries, grief and loss, insomnia, and excessive worries, childhood trauma and low self esteem as well as relationship problems and performance and test anxieties.