EMDR - WHAT IS IT?
EMDR or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is a powerful new psychotherapy technique showing much success in helping people suffering from trauma, anxiety, panic, troubling memories, post traumatic stress and many other emotional disturbances. EMDR has also been shown to be very effective in enhancing sports, artistic and creative performances as well as helping those suffering from chronic pain. EMDR has been scientifically proven to create effective, lasting results in much less time than traditional talk psychotherapy alone.
Watch this 2003 Los Angeles Channel 2 News Segment showing how EMDR was used to treat an Iraqi war veteran suffering from PTSD - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The video segment shows how this solder, who seemed fine after returning from completing his tours of duty in the Gulf War in Iraq, suddenly began experiencing PTSD after being triggered by a local disaster he witnessed in Santa Monica, California. He underwent EMDR treatment to help him resolve traumas that stemmed all the way back to his childhood, the war and the current incident that finally triggered the emotional flooding. After 6 EMDR sessions, he was able to regain close to full functioning levels.
HOW DOES EMDR WORK?
EMDR uses BI-LATERAL STIMULATION such as left-right eye (visual) movements, tactile (touch) or auditory (sound) stimulation, repeatedly activating opposite sides of the brain while the client focuses on the disturbing images, thoughts and feelings, effectively "unlocking" these experiences that seem "trapped" in the nervous system and allowing the brain to fully and rapidly process them out. In the EMDR world, this is known as "Adaptive Information Processing". That is, with EMDR's mechanism, all aspects of a disturbing memory / issue are able to be fully, properly, adaptively "digested / processed out / made sense of", not just on a cognitive level but on an emotional as well as body / nervous system level - full body-mind integration. During EMDR sessions, clients often feel they are having epiphanies / making connections / having realizations that they could not get to on their own or through just traditional talk therapy. As a result of successful EMDR processing, the past truly does now become "the past", a neutralized memory, effectively clearing out the negative emotional, mental and physiological triggers associated with it. The brain is able to retain what is healthy and let go what does not serve a person's balanced mental health. With successful EMDR treatment, the client is able to experience, in real time, the body as well as the mind fully releasing and discharging the disturbance, freeing up physical blockages, reconnecting itself, leaving the client feeling more calm, centered and in control.
Window to An EMDR Session -This Video walks you through what an EMDR session might look like. A client is shown with an EMDR Therapist working on a current distressing issue, rapidly processing out an old unresolved experience where the trigger had originated. EMDR Sessions can be quite intense as your brain and body actively reprocess old information / beliefs / experiences that have been previously stored in a dysfunctional, unresolved state in your brain, resulting in the client creating new meaning / developing a sense of choice / of seeing possibilities, rather than feeling and reacting in a stuck or dysfunctional manner. After processing with EMDR, clients often report feeling great relief or release, a sense of calm / resolution, connectedness, a sense of knowing in their gut that things have really shifted / changed toward the positive / resolved / ended, and that they can think / react / respond from a much healthier place. This shows up in clients being able to feel worthy / deserving / lovable / competent, feeling that they have choices / have control / can trust or learn to trust themselves and others, knowing they deserve to live / can handle things / feel safe, etc.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF USING EMDR THERAPY?
EMDR has been shown to be TWICE as effective in HALF the amount of time of standard traditional psychotherapy treatments alone. Traditional psychotherapy is often considered difficult and time-consuming. EMDR, however, is considered a remarkable revolutionary psychotherapy because of its simplicity and the fact that it brings rapid and lasting relief from most types of emotional disturbances. With EMDR, processing even the most disturbing memories can be achieved in a fraction of the time it would have taken with traditional talk psychotherapy.
Changes with EMDR are LONG LASTING. Scientific studies have also shown that with EMDR, although not all clients will have dramatic responses in as short a period of time, the end results will be equally effective and long lasting.
WHAT KINDS OF PROBLEMS ARE HELPED BY EMDR?
EMDR shows a high degree of effectiveness with the following conditions:
Abuse * Anxiety * Assaults * Bad Temper * Car Accidents * Childhood Abuse * Childhood Trauma * Chronic Pain * Creativity Blocks * Depression * Fears * Fire * Grief * Illness * Injury * injury of a Loved One * Intrusive Negative Thoughts * Loss of a Loved One * Low Self Confidence * Low Self Esteem * Natural Disasters * Overwhelming Fears * Obsessions * Panic Attacks * Phobias * Performance Problems * Robbery * Sexual Abuse * Shyness * Sport Performance Problems * Stage Fright * Stress * Surgery Traumas * Trouble Sleeping / Insomnia * Victims of Violent Crimes / Violence * Work Accident * Worrying or Brooding * Writer's Block
EMDR is most effective when used in conjunction with other traditional methods of psychotherapy in treating these and many other emotional disturbances.
DOES EMDR WORK ON ALL AGE GROUPS?
YES, EMDR psychotherapy has been shown to be effective with infants, children, teens, adults as well as couples.
HOW EFFECTIVE IS EMDR?
EMDR is the most thoroughly researched psychotherapy method known for the treatment of PTSD and Trauma. One recent EMDR study involving individuals suffering from trauma due to rape, military combat, loss of a loved one, natural disasters and devastating accidents, showed that 85-90% achieved significant relief from their emotional distress after only three EMDR psychotherapy sessions.
EMDR's effects appear to be long lasting with very low relapse rate.
EMDR is so effective, it is recognized and supported by the following International List of Mental Health Departments and Associations as an empirically validated psychotherapy treatment for physical and psychological trauma.
- American Psychiatric Association (APA) (2004)
- U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs and the Department of Defense (2004)
- International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (2000)
- United Kingdom Department of Health (2001)
- Israeli National Council for Mental Health (2002)
- Northern Ireland Department of Health - Clinical Resource Efficiency Support Team (CREST) (2003)
- Dutch National Steering Committee Guidelines Mental Health Care (2003)
- Swedish Council on Technology Assessment in Healthcare (2003)
- French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (2004)
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT EMDR
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