What is EMDR?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

image of therapist going over emdr with a patientEye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) was invented by the psychologist Francine Shapiro in the 1980s. It is a form of psychotherapy that helps relieve the effects associated with trauma. Accessing and processing the memories of a traumatic experience enables people to heal their symptoms and relieve emotional distress that stems from difficult, disturbing experiences. For those who have suffered a traumatic experience, it may seem impossible to overcome the deep-rooted, long-term symptoms. However, many people have found significant relief from symptoms. Over the last twenty-five years, EMDR has helped millions of people heal permanently.

EMDR therapy takes time, and there are a number of tools used. There are eight phases of treatment over a targeted, but somewhat flexible, period of time, and each session usually lasts about ninety minutes. EMDR treatment is conducted by a trained psychotherapist, and it is available in both outpatient and residential settings. Painful events are explored through EMDR, so some preparation may be needed prior to beginning this type of therapy. In order for resolution of trauma symptoms and lasting recovery, it is important that the client is committed to seeing the process through. EMDR is primarily used to overcome the symptoms of trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder, however it has also been effective in relieving co-occurring disorders such as anxiety, depression, panic disorders, eating disorders, substance abuse, and fears and phobias.

There are no medications used as part of EMDR therapy and there are no side effects. There are eight phases of EMDR treatment.

  1. History and treatment planning
  2. Preparation
  3. Assessment
  4. Desensitization
  5. Installation
  6. Body Scan
  7. Closure
  8. Reevaluation

The therapist takes history of the client’s experiences and current needs, explores the client’s readiness to begin, and creates a plan for treatment. Several tools to manage emotional stress are introduced and practiced. The client identifies a visual image associated with a traumatizing memory, a negative feeling and a positive feeling they feel about them self, and associated physical feelings and emotions. Through the application of tangible tools that help the brain connect and reprocess thoughts, memories, thoughts, feelings, and emotions are reprocessed and the client is empowered.

If you have suffered from trauma or you have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, EMDR might be helpful to you. Talk with your psychotherapist, physician, or treatment center to explore whether EMDR might be helpful to you.

Haven Hills Recovery – Trauma Informed Care for Women