EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a modern method of psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that result from a variety of disturbing life experiences. EMDR works by using bilateral tones, tapping, or eye movement while a client thinks about the trauma. EMDR was originally developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro.
EMDR is effective with clients who want to decrease symptoms of:
- Panic attacks
- Chronic depression
- Weight Loss issues
- Low self-esteem
Contact us to find out if EMDR can help you.
At What Age Can I Try EMDR?
EMDR can be effective for clients of all ages depending on specific symptoms and history. Please contact us to find out if EMDR can help you or your child.
How Effective is EMDR?
More than 30 positive controlled outcome studies have been conducted with EMDR therapy. Some of the studies show that 84%-90% of single-trauma victims no longer have post-traumatic stress disorder after only three 90-minute sessions. Another study, funded by the HMO Kaiser Permanente, found that 100% of the single-trauma victims and 77% of multiple trauma victims no longer were diagnosed with PTSD after only six 50-minute sessions.1,2,3 In addition, EMDR has been approved by the APA (American Psychiatric Association). It has been used successfully on millions of people from all parts of the world, and our United States military.
How are the Sessions Structured?
There are 8 Phases of EMDR which span across 5-10 sessions on average.
Session 1 & 2: Phase 1 – History and treatment planning
Session 3: Phase 2 – Preparation
Session 4: Phase 3 – Target assessment
Session 5 – 10+: Phase 4 to 8 – Desensitization, Installation, Body Scan, Closure, Reevaluation
How Does it Work?
When a person is involved in a distressing event, they may feel overwhelmed and their brain may be unable to process the information like a normal memory. One moment becomes “frozen in time on a neurological level,” 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 he relates to other people.
EMDR seems to have a direct effect on the way that the brain processes information. Following a successful EMDR session, a person no longer re-lives the images, sounds, and feelings when the event is brought to mind. He still remembers what happened, but it is less upsetting. By alternating left-right stimulation of the brain with eye movements, patients can stimulate the “frozen” information processing system. EMDR appears to be similar to what occurs naturally during dreaming or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. During the process, the distressing memories seem to lose their intensity so that the memories are less distressing and seem more like ‘ordinary’ memories.
The theory behind EMDR is that, especially in cases of post-traumatic stress disorder, anxious or stressful feelings become trapped within the body at moments of panic. A fight or flight response is usually triggered in most people when something bad happens.
That can extend to a traumatic event such as witnessing a horrific accident or it can relate to someone being accidentally trapped underwater for several minutes. Whatever the trauma or the event, the panic or the fear is what sometimes stays “stuck.” The feeling is literally trapped inside the nervous system and until the feeling is somehow healed, it will always be present and thus can always become a source of reproducible anxiety in many different similar and non-similar situations.
Working through triggers is a big part of healing with the use of EMDR therapy. It involves dealing with the past, with the present, and also with the future. EMDR can help you heal and move on, so the problems that you’re currently experiencing, won’t always be with you.
1Lee, Gale K, R.N., M.N., Beaton, Randal D, PhD, E.M.T., & Ensign, Josephine, R.N., PhD. (2003). Eye movement desensitization & reprocessing. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing & Mental Health Services, 41(6), 22-31.
2Shapiro, F., & Laliotis, D. (2011). EMDR and the adaptive information processing model: Integrative treatment and case conceptualization. Clinical Social Work Journal, 39(2), 191-200.
3Seidler, G.H. and Wagner, F. E. (2006). Comparing the efficacy of EMDR and trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy in the treatment of PTSD: A meta-analytic study. Psychological Medicine, 36(11), 1515-22.