Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR) is an extremely effective tool in helping clients process disturbing or upsetting experiences and memories. It utilizes an eight phase approach to address the difficult emotions, negative beliefs and uncomfortable body sensations that you might be experiencing. Essentially, EMDR helps remove the barriers that keep people from feeling, thinking and behaving in ways that are healthy, satisfying and fulfilling.
Traditionally EMDR, as evidenced by its name, used eye movements to process the trauma. However, research has shown that what’s actually essential is the bilateral movement. In my EMDR work I actually use headphones that utilize auditory stimulation through a bilateral tone from ear to ear which is just as effective as eye movements.
The processing phase of EMDR involves attending to the distressing memory while simultaneously focusing on the bilateral stimulation (in this case it would be the tones from the headphones). This is done in brief, sequential periods over the course of the session. Each period lasts only a few minutes followed by the client giving a brief summary of what they were noticing during the processing. Over the course of the session the client attends to approximately 20-30 periods. EMDR facilitates access to the trauma and as such it enhances information processing and adaptation. Cognitive insights and an elimination of emotional distress in relation to that memory results. In other words, when you think about the traumatic memory it no longer upsets you and as a result you will feel better and unhealthy thoughts and behaviours will dissipate.
EMDR was initially used to help war veterans deal with ‘shell shock’, what we now know as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, in the decades since it was first developed it has commonly been used to successfully treat a multitude of mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, grief, etc. among the general population. The consensus among researchers and practitioners is that underlying those issues is almost always some experience of trauma in the person’s history.
If you would like more information about EMDR you can browse through www.emdria.com. To schedule an appointment for a consultation or to begin the EMDR process feel free to contact me.