Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
What Is EMDR?
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a popular type of psychotherapy that’s useful in helping alleviate the symptoms that stem from trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). First developed in 1987 by Dr. Francine Shapiro, EMDR uses rapid and rhythmic eye movements under the instruction of a psychotherapist and is often combined with a series of tapping exercises or the playing of alternating sounds in each ear.
Disturbing events tend to stay locked in our subconscious and those events may replay in our minds repeatedly. EMDR aims to disrupt these painful memories so that healing can begin.
Utilizing EMDR In Treatment
At Lifeskills, our therapists take a three-pronged approach to EMDR:
- Process Past Event(s): Identify core memories or the earliest memories that laid the foundation for the presenting problems, and then identify the themes and clusters that represent the event(s).
- Process Present Event(s): Process the current triggers and stressors of recent event(s).
- Process Future Events: Help design a template of desired thoughts, emotions, and actions for future events that typically have been avoided or uncomfortable
EMDR processing entails:
- Accessing the dysfunctionally stored information
- Stimulating the information processing system
- Moving the information by monitoring the free association process and facilitating adaptive resolution
- Desensitizing and reducing the subjective unit of distress
- Reprocessing by helping the client adapt a new understanding of the event(s) so they can shift their negative cognitions to positive ones
EMDR makes traumatic memories more distant, vague, and less distressing. With EMDR, the brain does the healing, and the individual is in control during the processing of the memory, so there’s no need to talk excessively about the trauma. Not only does EMDR help relieve symptoms of trauma, but it’s also been documented to aide in the treatment of other psychiatric disorders, mental health problems, and somatic symptoms (i.e., depression, anxiety, shame, guilt, self-esteem).