EYE MOVEMENT DESENSITIZATION AND REPROCESSING
To date, EMDR has helped an estimated two million people of all ages relieve many types of psychological distress. This form of therapy is a psychological method for treating stress related experiences and emotional difficulties that are caused from traumatic events such as combat stress, assaults, upsetting childhood events and natural disasters. EMDR is a complex method that brings together elements from well- established clinical theoretical orientations including psychodynamic, cognitive, behavioral and client-centered. EMDR entails an eight-phase approach guided by an information-processing model that views pathology as based upon perceptual components or the memory in order to expdeite the accessing and processing of disturbing events and facilitate an attentent learning experience.
How was EMDR developed?
In 1987, psychologist Dr. Francine Sharpiro made the chance observation that eye movements can reduce the intensity of disturbing thoughts under certain conditions. Dr. Sharpiro studied this effect scientifically, and in a 1989 issue of the Journal of Traumatic Stress, she reported success-using EMDR to treat victims of trauma. Since then, EMDR has developed and evolved through the contributions of therapists and researchers all over the world. Today, EMDR is a set standardized protocol that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches.
Scientific research has established EMDR as effective for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. However, clinicians also have reported of the following conditions:
Sexual and Physical Abuse Phobias
Body Dysmorphic Disorders
What an EMDR Session is like?
During EMDR, the therapist works with the client to identify a specific problem as the focus of the treatment session. The client calls to mind the disturbing issue or event, what was seen, felt, heard, thought, etc., and what thoughts and beliefs are currently held about that event. The therapist facilitates the directional movement of the eyes, or other dual attention stimulation of the brain, while the client focuses on the disturbing material, and the client just notices whatever comes to mind without making any effort to control direction or content.
Each person will process information uniquely based on personal experiences and values. Sets of eye movements are continued until the memory becomes less disturbing and is associated with positive thoughts and beliefs about one's self for example "I did the best I could". During EMDR, the client may experience intense emotions, but by the end of the session most people report a great reduction in the level of disturbance.
How does EMDR work?
No one knows how any form of psychotherapy works neurobiologically or in the brain. However, we do know that when a person is very upset, their brain cannot process information as it does ordinarily. One moment becomes 'frozen in time', and remembering a trauma may feel as bad as going through it the first time, because the images, sounds, smells, and feelings haven't changed. Such memories have a lasting negative effect that interferes with the way a person sees the world and the way they relate with other people.
EMDR seems to have a direct effect on the way that the brain processes information . Normal information processing is resumed, so following a successful EMDR session,a person no longer relives the images, sounds and feelings when the event is brought to mind. You still remember what happened, but it is less upsetting. Many types of therapy have similar goals. However, EMDR appears to be similar to what occurs naturally during dreaming or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Therefore. EMDR can be thought of as a physiologically-based therapy that helps a person see disturbing material in a new and less distressing way.
Why do Clients respond so well?
EMDR is a client-centered approach. It produces symptom relief by using brief, high-intensity exposures to the details of the target experience.
Does EMDR really work?
Approximately 20 controlled studies have investigated the effects of EMDR. These studies have consistently found that EMDR effectively decreases/eliminates the symptoms of post traumatic stress for the majority of clients. Clients often report improvement in other, associated symptoms such as anxiety. The current treatment guidelines of the American Psychiatric Association and the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies designate EMDR as an effective treatment for post-traumatic stress. EMDR was also found effective by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense, The United Kingdom Department of Health, the Israeli National Council for Mental Health, and many other international health and governmental agencies. EMDR is one of the most researched psychotherapeutic treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Research has also shown EMDR can be an efficient and rapid treatment. For further references, a bibliography of research may be found through EMDR International Association's website.
How long does EMDR take?
One of more sessions are required for the therapist to understand the nature of the problem, and to decide whether EMDR is an appropriate treatment. The therapist will also discuss EMDR more fully and provide an opportunity to answer questions about the method. Once the therapist and client have agreed that EMDR is appropriate for the specific problem, the actual EMDR therapy may begin.
A typical EMDR session last from 45 to 50 minutes. The type of problem, life circumstances, and the amount of previous trauma will determine how many treatment sessions are necessary. EMDR may be used within a standard 'talking' therapy, as an adjunctive therapy with a separate therapist or as a treatment all by itself.