What is EMDR?
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy approach that was originally developed by Francine Shapiro, PhD for the treatment of traumatic memories resulting from unresolved life experiences. EMDR integrates elements of psychodynamic, exposure therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and body-focused therapies. It also uses the unique element of bilateral stimulation in the form of eye movements, auditory tones, or tactile stimulation.
Theory and Research
The theory used to explain EMDR, Adaptive Information Processing, proposes that many of current day emotional disorders are due to the incomplete processing of traumatic or disturbing adverse life experiences. This impairs the client’s ability to integrate these experiences in an adaptive manner. EMDR therapy enables the individual to access the mind’s natural healing response to restore a balanced state of mental health. One theory about the function of the bilateral stimulation of EMDR is that EMDR, like REM or dream sleep, helps the mind to process blocked information.. The processing allows the event to be fully experienced and reprocessed, thus releasing troubling feelings and images. Numerous clinical trials have been conducted to establish EMDR’s efficacy for treatment of PTSD and other mental disorders.
EMDR therapy involves an eight phase protocol which addresses the past, present, and future aspects of the dysfunctionally stored memories. The client is asked to focus on a “target” related to the disturbing experience, such as a memory or dream image, body sensation or negative self referencing thought. During EMDR a type of rapid free association or information occurs between healthy and unhealthy memory networks. Negative thoughts, feelings, pictures and emotions ease off and are replaced with new insights and an overall positive attitude. EMDR removes blockages causes by negative images, beliefs, and body sensations, allowing a natural state of wellbeing and emotional balance to come through.
Getting Past Your Past: Take Control of Your Life with Self-Help Techniques from EMDR Therapy. Francine Shapiro PhD. Rodale, Inc.
EMDR International Association
EMDR Institute Inc