Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
EMDR is a form of psychotherapy developed by Francine Shapiro, PhD. This approach uses eye movements or other forms of bilateral stimulation to assist trauma survivors in processing distressing memories and beliefs. EMDR is one of the most thoroughly researched trauma-focused psychotherapies available. EMDR helps the brain heal from significant emotional trauma in much the same way that our body heals from physical pain: by using our body’s internal resources.
EMDR is an eight-phase treatment model. The therapist walks the client through the stages of history taking and treatment planning, preparation of building coping resources, assessing targets for treatment, reprocessing previous events, desensitizing the client to the disturbing emotions and sensations associated with the memory, implementing strengths-based positive belief structures, and solidifying progress. Following thorough history taking and treatment planning, EMDR therapy involves the therapist directing the client to attend to distressing memories for brief periods of time while also attending to external stimuli, such as hand-tapping, audio stimulation, or bilateral eye movements.
The goal of treatment is to help work through and shift past traumatic memories into a more adaptive framework. After successful treatment with EMDR you may notice significant reduction in distress, shifts in negative beliefs and thoughts, and reduction in bodily arousal.
While EMDR was originally developed to treat trauma, it is also effective in treating other stressors and concerns. EMDRIA (EMDR International Association) is an excellent source of further information about this well-researched treatment modality.