Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)


What is EMDR?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR, is a powerful new psychotherapy technique which has been very successful in helping people who suffer from trauma, anxiety, panic, disturbing memories, post-traumatic stress and many other emotional problems. Until recently, these conditions were difficult and time-consuming to treat. EMDR is considered a breakthrough therapy because of its simplicity and the fact that it can bring quick and lasting relief for most types of emotional distress. The EMDR technique uses bilateral stimulation - saccadic eye movements, ear beeps or hand-leg taps which are broken down into "sets". All five senses are addressed. New awarenesses and associations are experienced in the reprocessing stage. When appropriate material emerges the clinician will guide the client into the next "set".

How can Therapy Help?

The therapist works with the client, identifying a target, focusing on the most vivid image (tactile or visceral feeling, smell or sound). A negative belief-about-self is elicited as related to the trauma, to be replaced with the opposite (positive belief). For example, "I should have done better" is replaced with "I did the best I could". Associated emotions and bodily sensations are noted. The "positive belief" and "emotions" are given a numerical value.

EMDR makes it possible to gain the self-knowledge and perspective that will enable the client to choose their actions, rather than feeling powerless over their re-actions. The EMDR therapy sessions continue until the negative emotions and negative belief-about-self associated with the trauma dissipate. The trauma is not forgotten, but holds no negative charge; the positive belief holds true.

When the word "trauma" is heard, one thinks of rape, combat, accidents etc. In addition, growing up feeling "not good enough" is considered repeated trauma, eroding self- esteem and is highly treatable using EMDR.