What is EMDR?
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy that helps people heal from various types of emotional distress or anxiety. A disturbing life event may impact the brain’s information processing system by causing a block or imbalance, which results in severe suffering which may take many forms such as severe anxiety, anger or depression. Once the block is removed, emotional healing occurs. Using a particular protocol, the counselor is able to aid the client in successfully processing these memories on a deeper level, causing the client to gain new insight, a sense of empowerment, and healing of the emotional wounds.
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy is recognized as an effective form of treatment in numerous practice guidelines worldwide, such as the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association and the Department of Defense. Studies show that using EMDR, people can emotionally heal from past trauma at a much faster rate than before. One study, funded by the HMO Kaiser Permanente, found that 100% of the single-trauma victims and 77% of multiple trauma victims no longer were diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) after only six 50-minute sessions. But, it is not only for clients who suffer from PTSD; EMDR has also been effectively used to treat people who seem “stuck” in some area of their lives, and suffer from poor self-esteem, anger or other things that they may come for counseling.
How Does it Work?
After a history of the client is taken and it’s been determined which memory to target, the counselor asks the client to think about different components of that disturbing memory while the client either uses his eyes to track the therapist’s hand as it moves back and forth across the client’s field of vision, or the client feels an alternating tap or pulse in his palm. As this dual stimulation occurs, the biological mechanisms involved in Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep is produced and that helps the client to make associations in the memory and disturbing feelings. The meaning of the painful event is processed by the client at an emotional level, and the client gains new insights into the past trauma, and concludes with a sense of empowerment, rather than victimization, thus transforming the events that once humiliated them and held them hostage, setting them free from the nightmarish memories. To simplify, EMDR helps a person change the way they react to current issues by going back to earlier experiences that might have caused them to develop faulty beliefs and patterns that keep them from living a healthy lifestyle.
If you are interested in this type of therapy, ask your counselor to see if it is the best therapy for your situation.