EMDR: Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing
In 1987, while walking in a park, Dr. Francine Shapiro made a chance observation. She noticed that the intensity of her disturbing thoughts and feelings reduced after her eyes had been moving rapidly back and forth. Being a student of psychology and a naturally curious person she decided to research this for her doctoral thesis. She found a way to use rapid eye movements in a special psychotherapy protocol, and discovered it was very successful in relieving chronic distress in victims of trauma. By 1989, Shapiro had developed a totally new kind of psychotherapy: EMDR therapy.
What is EMDR?
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. Since Dr. Shapiro’s first published research study in 1989, EMDR ® has developed and evolved through the contributions of therapists and researchers all over the world. It now incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches. To date, it has helped an estimated half million people of all ages receive relief from many different kinds of psychological distress.
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 traumatic memories, with more healthy, positive beliefs.
What Experts Say…
“With the development of EMDR, Francine Shapiro has made a profound contribution to our knowledge of illness and healing.” David A. Console, MD, Director of the Trauma Recovery Program, Menninger Clinic
“EMDR provides a proven approach to address the trauma that can interfere with healthy grief and mourning following the loss of a loved one.” -Therese A. Rando, PhD, Founder & Exec. Director, Institute for the Study of Treatment of Loss
“EMDR is proving to be the silicon chip of psychotherapy; it allows people to process incredible amounts of material in a shockingly short time.” – Michael Elkin, Director, Centre for Collaborative Solutions
“EMDR is the most revolutionary, important method to emerge in psychotherapy in decades.”
– Herbert Fensterheim, PhD, Cornell Univ.
“Dr. Shapiro applies EMDR to a wide range of disorders and problems and shows how individuals can gain mastery of previously overwhelming experiences, phobia, anxiety, and bereavement.”
– Denise Gelinas, PhD, Harvard University
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 the loss of a child. Little “t” traumas are the smaller everyday chronic horrors, like daily negative childhood messages leading a girl to grow up believing she 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 an overall treatment plan. EMDR ® has been successfully used to treat many problems. Some of them include:
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
What Patients Say…
“My scepticism disappeared and disturbance level was dramatically reduced after 4 sessions, when I was able to forgive the perpetrator of my accident and let go.” Jean F, Car accident client with PTSD
“The treatment made me look deep, very deep, into my own existence. I’m more attentive to my feelings. Now I treasure each and every moment of my life.” – Richard Webster, Mine fire victim, Quoted in Family Therapy Networker
“Now, when I talk about what happened to me, it’s definitely reality, but the fear’s not there anymore…. It’s astounding. I’ve been given a portion of my life back.” – Emily G., Victim of abduction and rape, Quoted in American Health
“Within two or three of four sessions, we had resolved issues that I’d been discussing for four or five years with other people.” – Eric Smith, Vietnam veteran suffering from PTSD, Quoted on 20/20, ABC News
(With thanks and acknowledgement to Shirley Jean Schmidt – Certified EMDR therapist) Please visit her web site as below: www.shirleyjeanschmidt.com