Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a type of integrative psychotherapy that was originally developed to treat trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)-- a condition which often occurs after military combat, physical attack, sexual assault, car accidents, or natural disasters. It has been researched extensively and has been approved by the American Psychiatric Association, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, and the World Health Organization to treat both acute and chronic PTSD, anxiety, and depression symptoms. The therapy involves eight phases of treatment using standardized protocols and combining elements of many psychotherapy approaches. But unlike other trauma-focused therapies, EMDR does not involve detailed descriptions of the event, extended exposure, or direct challenging of beliefs—all of which can be retraumatizing to the patient.
EMDR works through bilateral stimulation (BLS)--which can be in the form of eye movements, sound, or touch—that activates both left and right hemispheres of the brain. By focusing on the emotional disturbance or traumatic memory in conjunction with the BLS, the memory centers of the brain (specifically the hippocampus) are changed in a process similar to that which occurs during REM sleep, a reprocessing, so to speak. Treatment typically targets past memories, present disturbances, and future actions, consolidating new skills and beliefs to allow a person’s emotions, thoughts, and physical reactions to evolve into a healthy state.
EMDR can be used to treat not only trauma, but also panic attacks, complicated grief, phobia’s, pain disorders, depression, addictions, and other mental health conditions. If you are interested in exploring EMDR treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to talk with you about how I may be able to help.