Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing is an innovative treatment for trauma identified in 1987 by Francine Shapiro, PhD. EMDR first was tested with Viet Nam veterans and rape survivors.
EMDR makes use of the fact that the brain has two sides (or hemispheres). Each side of the brain provides a different style of processing information. It is as if one side always sees the whole forest, while the other focuses on the separate trees.
The problem in recovering from trauma is that trauma tends to be remembered in one big lump, instead of being stored in smaller bits and pieces. EMDR uses the brain's two kinds of information processing to "digest" traumatic experiences and memories.
What to expect with EMDR
EMDR starts with several questions to engage visual, mental, emotional and physical awareness. The intensity of sensations is rated to assess change as it occurs and a specific item is identified as the starting point. Then the mind finds its own path out of the trauma, supported by the bilateral stimulation that encourages activity on both sides of the brain during the trauma processing. The bilateral stimulation often occurs through "eye movements," but also can be accomplished with hand or knee taps.
The goals of EMDR are to decrease negative sensations and to increase, reinforce and enhance positive sensations. Results often include significant decreases in emotional and physical distress along with increased health and contentment.
Who Should Consider EMDR?
If you have experienced past abuse, have recurrent nightmares, or struggle to live in the present, EMDR could be very helpful for you.
EMDR is effective for: