What is EMDR Therapy?
EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. Francine Shapiro, a psychologist from the United States, developed it more than 20 years ago. EMDR is used around the world and cited as an evidence-based practice by many professional and government agencies. It is recognized as an evidence-based practice because it is scientifically proven to be effective in mental health therapy when performed by a trained professional.
What can it treat?
It is used to help clients with anxiety, phobias, PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder), and in some cases depression.
How is it done?
The therapist guides the client through sets of bilateral tones heard through headphones and mild pulses felt from small paddles held in both hands. Bilateral refers to the tones and taps that are sent to the right side and then left side. The number of sets will depend on the client and his or her history.
Who endorses EMDR?
· The American Psychiatric Association
· The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
· Department of Defense
· Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration
The Natural Healing of EMDR
Most of the time, our bodies manage new information and experiences without us being aware of it. However, when a trauma occurs (e.g. a car accident, assault) or distressing events are experienced repeatedly (e.g. cruel parenting, childhood neglect), natural coping mechanisms can become overloaded. This overloading can result in disturbing experiences remaining “frozen” in the brain or being unprocessed. Such unprocessed memories and feelings are stored in the limbic system of the brain in a “raw” and emotional form, rather than in a verbal “story” mode. The limbic system’s traumatic memories can be continually triggered when we experience events similar to the difficult experiences we have been through. Painful feelings such as anxiety, panic, anger or despair are continually triggered in the present. EMDR helps create the connections between the brain’s memory networks, enabling the brain to process the traumatic memory in a natural way.
EMDR has been used to treat traumatized people from the September 11 terrorist attacks, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and recently the Sandy Hook tragedy and Hurricane Sandy.