Psychotherapy and Psychological Assessment
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Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR)

What is EMDR?

Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing is a relatively new and powerful method of psychotherapy. Developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro in 1987, EMDR was initially used to treat victims of trauma. Since that time, scientific research has established EMDR as effective for the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The traumatic event seems to get locked in the nervous system with the original visual, sounds, thoughts, physical sensations and feelings. These memories may feel as bad as the first time they were experienced. EMDR processes memories/events that have become “frozen in time” in the brain.

Researchers believe that the "bilateral stimulation" of Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing activates parts of the brain responsible for processing and integrating memories. The assumption is that what occurs in the REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep is what occurs in EMDR. The general theory applied to the successful outcomes associated with EMDR is that it engages the individual’s own self-healing system.

The eye movements, taps, or sounds used in EMDR activate parts of the brain (just as in dreaming). These then open pathways allowing the brain to process the negative experience that it was unable to at the time the trauma occurred. Along with eye movements is an eight-step protocol, which connects the memory, negative belief, feelings, and body sensations.

In using EMDR you might experience a level of emotional distress and physical sensations during the processing. EMDR does not cause these sensations, but allows your body and brain to digest or “unfreeze” the old memory in its attempt to heal itself. EMDR is a client-centered approach, and the client is always in control.

Areas EMDR has been helpful in include:

Visit www.EMDRIA.ORG to learn more.

Check The New York Times Blog - The Evidence on E.M.D.R. By The New York Time