What is EMDR? EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is widely recognized for the
treatment of trauma, specifically
post-traumatic stress disorder. EMDR is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment
It has also been used to successfully
- Body dysmorphic disorders
- Complicated grief
- Disturbing memories
- Panic attacks
- Performance anxiety
- Stress reduction
- Sexual and/or Physical
- Upsetting Childhood Events (which have caused low self - esteem or confidence problems)
How does EMDR work? No one knows exactly how any form of psychotherapy works neurobiologically or in the
brain. However, we do know that when a person is very upset, his/her 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 relates 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, it can be thought of as a physiologically based therapy that helps a person see disturbing material in a new and
less distressing way.
Does EMDR really work? To date, EMDR has helped an estimated two million people of all ages relieve many types
of psychological stress. It has been recognized by the National Institute of Health as an effective form of therapy backed
by research. Approximately 20 controlled studies have investigated the effects of EMDR. These studies have consistently found
that EMDR effectively decreases/eliminates the symptoms of post traumatic stress for the majority of clients. Clients often
report improvement in other associated symptoms such as anxiety. The current treatment guidelines of the American Psychiatric
Association and the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies designate EMDR as an effective treatment for post traumatic
stress. For more information, see www.emdria.org