EMDR - Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

Losing someone or something you love or often individuals who experience trauma are held captive by the thoughts and experiences they have survived and witnessed.  Eye Movement  Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) was founded by Dr. Francine Shapiro and is a treatment approach to help clients tolerate the effects of trauma by alleviating the symptoms of distress associated with traumatic memories.  This can be accomplished by having a client follow the therapist’s fingers or a light bar from side to side with just their eyes, using headphones that emit sounds into one ear and then the other, or having the client hold a device in each hand that delivers pulses into one hand and then the other. After successful treatment of using EMDR therapy, effective distress is relieved, negative beliefs are reformulated and physiological arousal is reduced.   EMDR is a type of therapy that helps clients move towards recovery, hope, and a pathway to leave the reoccurring pain and trauma behind.

EMDR works to reduce or eliminate the effects of trauma using an eight phase approach with three pronged protocols:

(1)  past events that have laid the groundwork for dysfunction are processed, forging new associative links with adaptive information;

(2) the current circumstances that elicit distress are targeted and internal and external triggers to distress are desensitized; and

(3) imaginable templates of future events are incorporated to assist the client in acquiring the skills needed for adaptive functioning.   

The eight-phases consist of (1) client history, (2) preparation, (3) assessment, (4) desensitization, (5) installation of a positive cognition, (6) body scan, (7) closure; and (8) reevaluation.  

EMDR can be an effective treatment for those suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety, and many disorders which do not stem from genetics.  Adults with a history of trauma during their adulthood are often considered better candidates for EMDR due to the need for the clients preparedness for the treatment.  The client needs to be able to provide a history of trauma and demonstrate the ability to stabilize and  self soothe, especially in regards to tolerating emotions.

Submitted by: Michelle Reynolds, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor  at Awakenings Counseling Center - Contact her today!  michelle.reynolds@awakeningscounseling.com