Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
EMDR is a comprehensive psychotherapy approach which has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. EMDR has been shown to accelerate the treatment of a wide range of clinical issues. It Incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches such as: psychodynamic, client-centered, cognitive, cognitive behavior, experiential, somatic body therapies.
Through the use of bilateral stimulation (eye movement side to side or tappers buzzing left and right), which activates the client’s own healing mechanism. EMDR stimulates the innate information processing system in the brain, allowing the brain to record the event in a more adaptive manner.
Normally a new experience occurs and the brain turns on the information processing system to sort through the information for what is useful. It takes this information and links it to appropriate emotional states already stored in the brain. It links the new information with similar information already in the memory. In that way, this new information becomes available for use in the future and we create a knowledge base of perceptions, attitudes, emotions sensations and action.
Trauma stops this information processing system and the traumatic event gets locked in the nervous system with the original picture, sounds, thoughts and feelings. This becomes the basis for discomfort and negative emotions (symptoms, fear, helplessness). When triggers (similar part of the original event) occur, emotions connected with the old experience are re-experienced over and over. EMDR turns on the information processing system to allow your brain to process the experience. Normal information processing is resumed following a successful EMDR session.
After EMDR, the person no longer relives the images, sounds, and feelings when the event is brought to mind. The memory of what happened is still present, but it has less of an emotional/psychological effect. Many types of therapy aim for similar goals, however, EMDR appears to mimic what occurs naturally during a dream or REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. Therefore, EMDR can be thought of as a physiologically based therapy that helps a person see disturbing material in a new and less distressing way. During EMDR, the client may experience intense emotions, but by the end of the session, most people report a great reduction in the level of distress by the event.
EMDR is used for all age groups. EMDR can treat a multitude of issues including: personality disorders, panic attacks, complicated grief, dissociative disorders, disturbing memories, phobias, pain disorders, eating disorders, performance anxiety, stress reduction, addictions, sexual and/or physical abuse, body dysmorphic disorders, and relational issues.
EMDR may be used with young children by incorporating it with play therapy. Play Therapy is a therapeutic approach which provides an opportunity for children to ‘play out’ feelings and problems, using toys to symbolically represent their inner and outer worlds, since play is a child’s natural language.