Adult EMDR – Trauma Therapy
What is EMDR?
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR, is a powerful, relatively new, psychotherapy technique which has been very successful in helping people who suffer from trauma, anxiety, panic, disturbing memories, post-traumatic stress and many other emotional problems.
The EMDR technique uses a natural function of the body, rapid eye movement, or REM, as its basis. The human mind uses REM during sleep time to help it process daily emotional experiences. When trauma is extreme, this process breaks down and REM sleep doesn't bring the usual relief from distress. This is where EMDR comes in. EMDR is the next step or, you might say, an advanced stage of the REM processing. As troubling images and feelings are processed by the brain via the eye movement patterns of EMDR, resolution of the issues and a more peaceful state can result.
Who Discovered EMDR?
In the late 80's, psychologist Francine Shapiro, Ph.D., observed that particular eye movements reduced the intensity of disturbing thoughts in some clients. Dr. Shapiro decided to study this effect scientifically. In 1989, she published an article in the Journal of Traumatic Stress, describing her success using a method she called EMDR. Since that time, other therapists around the world have contributed to its development. EMDR has evolved into a highly effective technique that incorporates elements from other various treatment modalities.
How does EMDR work?
When disturbing experiences happen, they are stored in the brain with all the sights, sounds, thoughts and feelings that accompany them. When a person is very upset, the brain seems to be unable to process the experience as it would normally. Therefore, the negative thoughts and feelings of the traumatic event get "trapped" in the nervous system. Since the brain cannot process these emotions, the experience and/or their accompanying feelings, are often suppressed from consciousness. However, the distress lives on in the nervous system where it causes disturbances in the normal emotional functioning of the person.
The EMDR Technique does two very important things. First, it "unlocks" the negative memories and emotions stored in the nervous system, and second, it helps the brain successfully process the experience.
The therapist works gently with the client, guiding him or her to revisit the traumatic incident. As images and feelings arise, the client's eye movements are "matched" with the remembered events and then re-directed into particular movements that cause the release of the memories.
When the memory is brought to mind, the feelings are re-experienced in a new way. EMDR makes it possible to gain the self-knowledge and perspective that will enable the client to choose their actions, rather than feeling powerless over their re-actions. This process can be a complex if there are many experiences connected to the negative feelings. The EMDR therapy sessions continue until the traumatic memories and emotions are relieved. The EMDR technique is most effective when used in conjunction with other traditional methods of therapy in treating these and many other emotional disorders.
EMDR therapy can help clients replace their anxiety and fear with positive images, emotions and thoughts.
- PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
- Phobias and panic disorders
- Crime victims
- Excessive grief due to the loss of a loved one
- Sexual assault victims
- Accident, surgery and burn victims who were emotionally or physically debilitated
- Chemical dependency, sexual addiction and pathological gamblers
- Peak performance
- People with dissociative disorders
- People with somatic problems/ somatoform disorders
- Low self-esteem
Click here for more information on Child EMDR Therapy.