Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
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 (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a cost-effective, non-invasive, evidence-based treatment for conditions such as: trauma, panic attacks, complicated grief, dissociative disorders, disturbing memories, pain disorders, stress reduction, abuse, and personality disorders. Developed by Francine Shapiro, PhD in the late 1980′s, EMDR is an eight-phase treatment which comprehensively identifies and addresses experiences that have overwhelmed the brain’s natural resilience or coping capacity, and have thereby generated traumatic symptoms and/or harmful coping strategies. Through EMDR therapy, patients are able to reprocess traumatic information until it is no longer psychologically disruptive. EMDR works through bilateral movements using auditory, tactile (touch) or visual processing methods, similar to what is occurring during REM sleep, to activate the brain’s natural processing and healing capabilities.
During this procedure, patients tend to “process” the memory in a way that leads to a peaceful resolution. This often results in increased insight regarding both previously disturbing events and long held negative thoughts about the self. For example, an assault victim may come to realize that he was not to blame for what happened, that the event is really over, and, as a result he can regain a general sense of safety in his world. EMDR has been validated in Vietnam Veterans and rated by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs as a “highly recommended” treatment for trauma. Several of our clinicians are trained in EMDR under the EMDR International Association’s standards for training and certification.