Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
EMDR was first developed in 1987. Dr. Francine Shapiro realized that while thinking of upsetting thoughts, her eyes moved back and forth, which lead to a decrease in the intensity of her thoughts. Since that time, EMDR therapy has been studied extensively. In 2013, EMDR therapy became a recommended treatment for PTSD by the World Health Organization.
EMDR therapy is based on the idea that the past is being experienced in the present, that emotional stress in the present is caused by stressors remembered (in our minds, bodies, or emotions) from the past. EMDR therapy allows these stressors from the past to be released, so that our present becomes more calm and manageable.
The left/right movements used in EMDR therapy seem to allow the brain to process experiences that were locked in a dysfunctional way. This may be what happens during REM sleep, allowing your brain to link up to new information and release old ways of thinking and feeling. It is important to remember that it is your brain doing the healing, and you are in control of the process.
Clients who have experienced a one time trauma may be able to resolve their trauma in a few sessions, while clients that have had multiple trauma experiences in their lives may need much more time for emotional stabilization before even beginning with eye movements. EMDR therapy is not hypnosis--you are awake for the entire session.
EMDR therapy is a complex treatment for mental health issues. Therefore, only licensed mental health professionals with advanced training from an approved EMDR training program are authorized to use this treatment. Like any form of psychotherapy, treatment with EMDR is not guaranteed, and there are risks with any type of therapy. Please call to see if EMDR therapy might be a helpful treatment for you.