Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an evidenced-based therapy approach that was developed originally to treat Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). However, many studies now show that EMDR is also successful for Anxiety, Depression, Substance Abuse, and more.
EMDR is based on the understanding that traumatic or disturbing experiences can have a significant impact on our brain’s processing system. Specifically, if an event was too overwhelming, long in duration, or repeated over a period of time, the information received during the event(s), (images, sounds, smells, and/or physical sensations) are not processed to completion. In addition, we may develop negative or unrealistic beliefs about ourselves, others, or the world.
Examples are, “The world is not safe,” “I cannot trust,” “I’m not good enough,” along with others. This information becomes stuck and is re-triggered repeatedly with similar experiences in the future. Our beliefs are reinforced, we respond with similar reactions, or develop unhealthy behaviors to cope, such as avoiding others, relationships, suppress emotions, or develop an addiction to escape and forget.
EMDR utilizes specific protocols to reprocess the disturbing event(s) to reduce physical and emotional reactions and develop a more healthy perspective of our self, others, and the world. It is an 8-phase process focusing on past, present, and future events. It is utilized as part of the therapy process and often integrated with talk therapy, art, play, and other interventions. Many clients like this approach because it does not involve verbalizing details of an event unlike other forms of therapy.
For more information on EMDR, here are a coupe of links: