What is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)?

EMDR is a very effective method of doing therapy that produces great results for a large number of issues. This technique was developed 20 years ago by Francine Shapiro and is used to effectively treat war veterans who are suffering with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). There is a large body of research that supports the effectiveness of EMDR with this population as well as evidence of its success with a multitude of issues.

How it Works

When a scary or extremely painful event happens, the brain is sometimes not able to process the experience as it normally would. The thoughts, feelings and sensations of the traumatic event can become frozen in the nervous system as if in a time warp. EMDR helps to activate the brain’s natural processing abilities with efficiency, thereby helping to move the disturbing material through the nervous system, allowing the person to heal more completely. Images taken of the brain before and after treatment show that there is a calming in the emotional area of the brain after EMDR. By using bi-lateral stimulation, either using eye movement, tapping or sounds while recalling the disturbing event, the brain’s natural processing abilities are engaged. The event is reprocessed so that it is no longer disturbing.

Not only is EMDR helpful with trauma it has been proven to be an effective way to treat a myriad of issues: panic attacks, complicated grief, dissociative disorders, disturbing memories, phobias, pain disorders, performance anxiety, ADD, stress, addictions, sexual and/or physical abuse, body dysmorphic disorders and personality disorders are among them.

EMDR and Children

The process of EMDR is the same for children as for adults although the procedure needs to be adapted for children. Compared to adults, children’s symptoms diminish quicker. It is possible that a trauma, or anxiety or a phobia has had less time to take hold throughout a young person’s mind and body making it easier to “move.” Bi-lateral stimulation is used with children as with adults but stories, songs, games and interactions with caregivers are used simultaneously.

An EMDR Therapist

Not all therapists can use EMDR. To be an EMDR therapist, one must complete two levels of training, which involves 6 full days of instruction and numerous hours of supervised practice.