EMDR is a new psychotherapy used to treat troubling symptoms, such as anxiety, guilt, anger, depression, panic, sleep disturbance, and flashbacks that are the result of traumatic experiences. Traditional therapies have met with limited success in treating victims of trauma. Not only has EMDR therapy been proven effective in reducing the chronic symptoms which follow trauma, the therapy benefits appear to be permanent.
WHAT DOES EMDR STAND FOR?
Eye Movement: Much has been learned about this therapy since the day it was named for eye movements. Now it appears that the beneficial effects are facilitated by an alternating stimulation of the right and left hemispheres of the brain. Eye movements accomplish this, as do bilateral alternating taps or tones.
Desensitization refers to the removal of the emotional disturbance associated with a traumatic memory.
Reprocessing refers to the replacement of the unhealthy, negative beliefs associated with the traumatic memories, with more healthy, positive beliefs.
WHEN IS EMDR APPROPRIATE?
There are two types of trauma, big “T” trauma and little “t” trauma. Big “T” traumas are the major horrific events, like combat, rape, or loss of a child. Little “t” traumas are the smaller everyday chronic horrors, like daily negative childhood messages leading a person to grow up believing they will never be good enough. EMDR can help heal both types of trauma. EMDR therapy can be a very intense emotional experience, temporarily. It is not appropriate for those who are unwilling or unable to tolerate highly disturbing emotions. An EMDR therapist must take a thorough history to determine if and how EMDR can be used as part of the overall treatment plan. EMDR has been successfully used to treat many problems. Some of them include:
PTSD Complicated Grief Phantom Limb Pain
Anxiety Sexual Abuse Peak Performance
Depression Panic Attacks Performance Anxiety
Phobias Addictions Dissociative Disorders
HOW LONG DOES EMDR THERAPY TAKE?
This depends on several factors including the nature of the problem being treated, the client’s history, and the client’s ability to tolerate high levels of disturbance. In some cases, one EMDR treatment session is enough. Usually it takes weeks to months, but sometimes years of treatment are required. When EMDR therapy is used appropriately, it can significantly shorten the overall length of time in therapy.