EMDR is a powerful tool to help you overcome trauma, post-traumatic stress, anxiety, difficult or disturbing memories, and many other emotional problems. It was discovered recently in 1987, when the originator, Dr. Francine Shapiro was out walking and noticed that her anxiety was improved after she moved her eyes back and forth while observing her surroundings.
EMDR works by using what’s called bilateral stimulation which is right to left eye movements or tactile stimulation to help both sides of the brain release emotional experiences that may be trapped in the nervous system. Something in the eye movements helps to process the disturbing material and bring in more peace and comfort. When there is trauma present in your experience, the brain may not process information in its usual way. Sometimes the upset can become frozen and might be re-experienced as if the upsetting event is happening now. After an EMDR session the difficult and upsetting sensations are no longer triggered. What was very upsetting is less upsetting and you can move on. EMDR has been compared to REM sleep, when the brain is processing through dreams.
There are eight phases of treatment and depending on what you have been through and what you are trying to solve, these stages can be used for shorter or longer periods of time. As an example, the preparation phase is used to help you feel ready for processing the past. Also called Resource Development, it can be extremely helpful in promoting grounding and giving you skills and tools to deal with difficult feelings and behaviors. It can also help you feel more confidence, feel more cared about, and more safety in the world.
I am very inspired to be trained in EMDR. As a seasoned therapist, this technique is helping me revitalize my ability to be helpful, and giving me new insights into what you might need in your therapy to promote the most amount of healing for you.
As knowledge grows, there are more creative techniques using bilateral stimulation becoming available for specific types of problems. These include addictions, phobias, grief, recent traumatic events, and many more. It is wonderful for me to see the possibilities for healing opening up and expanding. Learning and growing continues on!
Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have about EMDR in psychotherapy. Also, visit the EMDRIA website for a wealth of information about Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.