How was EMDR developed?
In 1987, psychologist Dr. Francine Shapiro made the chance observation that eye movements can reduce the intensity of disturbing thoughts, under certain conditions.
Dr. Shapiro studied this effect scientifically and, in 1989, she reported success using EMDR to treat victims of trauma in the Journal of Traumatic Stress.
Since then, EMDR has developed and evolved through the contributions of therapists and researchers all over the world. Today, EMDR is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches.
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 to 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.
How long does EMDR take?
One or 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 therapist and client have agreed that EMDR is appropriate for a specific problem, the actual EMDR therapy may begin.
A typical EMDR session lasts from 60 to 90 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.
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 and Department of Defense, the United Kingdom Department of Health, the Israeli National Council for Mental Health, and many other international health and governmental agencies. Research has also shown that EMDR can be an efficient and rapid treatment.
What kind of problems can EMDR treat?
Scientific research has established EMDR as effective for post traumatic stress. However, clinicians also have reported success using EMDR in treatment of the following conditions:
- Panic attacks
- Complicated grief
- Dissociative disorders
- Disturbing memories
- Pain disorders
- Performance anxiety
- Stress reduction
- Sexual and/or Physical abuse
- Body dysmorphic disorders
- Personality Disorders
What EMDR clients are saying…
I was a member of the Canadian Army for over 20 years. I suffered from OSI (operational stress injury), depression, and the loss of my daughter and wife killed by a drunk driver. For over a year of treatment and work on my part I have finally found some peace of mind, My anger and depression had lowered to a managable level. Today, I see the light at the end of the tunnel…. I know that this treatment EMDR is by far the best I ever recieved in the mental health field, and the great thing is no meds.
Thank you, G.C.
This is just a note to let you know about how EMDR has changed my little girl. We started therapy in November 2005, and we have had 8 sessions so far. She is 6 years old and has had severe symptoms of PTSD from being abused. Although regular therapy had been a little successful, her progress was slow and ardous. Now, through EMDR my daughter seems happier, and her “fits” (aggressive rages) have been sigificantly reduced. Even though we are still in EMDR therapy, I could not wait to tell you how much we think this therapy has helped our precious daughter. Nothing we have tried was this successful.
R. A. Colorado
A few years ago I underwent EMDR. I was skeptical, of course. At this point in time, however, I see that it saved my marriage, my sanity and my relationship with my children. I was suffering from PTSD after experiencing much loss and never even realized that’s what stood in the way of a healthy life. It’s a wonderful treatment and more people should be informed about it. I was lucky to run across it by accident.
What EMDR clients are saying…
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. EMDR is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches. To date, EMDR therapy has helped millions of people of all ages relieve many types of psychological stress. Below is a Brief Description of EMDR Therapy.
8 Phases of Treatment
The amount of time the complete treatment will take depends upon the history of the client. Complete treatment of the targets involves a three pronged protocol (1-past memories, 2-present disturbance, 3-future actions), and are needed to alleviate the symptoms and address the complete clinical picture. The goal of EMDR therapy is to process completely the experiences that are causing problems, and to include new ones that are needed for full health. “Processing” does not mean talking about it. “Processing” means setting up a learning state that will allow experiences that are causing problems to be “digested” and stored appropriately in your brain. That means that what is useful to you from an experience will be learned, and stored with appropriate emotions in your brain, and be able to guide you in positive ways in the future. The inappropriate emotions, beliefs, and body sensations will be discarded. Negative emotions, feelings and behaviors are generally caused by unresolved earlier experiences that are pushing you in the wrong directions. The goal of EMDR therapy is to leave you with the emotions, understanding, and perspectives that will lead to healthy and useful behaviors and interactions.
This information was borrowed from EMDR International Association at Emdria.org
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Dr. Donna M. Chapman Ph.D. LMFT,
Marriage and Family Therapist, #83943
2525 Camino Del Rio South, Ste 107
San Diego, CA 92108
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