WHAT IS EMDR?
Dr. Francine Shapiro created eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) in 1987. As she walked around a lake and saw light through the trees, she discovered that when her eyes moved back and forth, she felt calmer even though she was remembering something painful. Dr. Shapiro studied this effect scientifically, and reported her success with EMDR and trauma survivors in the Journal of Traumatic Stress (1989). Since then the treatment has been extensively studied with amazing results.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN IN AN EMDR SESSION?
In the first session we will decide whether EMDR is the right tool for the job. If so, we will find a target (e.g. a shooting, car accident, incident of child abuse) to work on during the session. I will ask you to remember the event in detail.
During the EMDR you may experience intense emotions. The goal is to feel calm even when thinking of the worst part, and replace negative or destructive thoughts (e.g. “There was nothing I could do”) with realistic or healthy ones (e.g. “I did the best I could”).
Some changes others have noticed are:
- the image which keeps replaying may become very small or change from bright vivid color to faded gray
- the memory of the event is still there, without the punch or pain it used to have.
After EMDR, I have noticed immediate changes in clients’ physical symptoms (e.g. tense shoulders drop, tight stomachs relax). Each person’s experience will be completely unique.
HOW LONG WILL THIS TAKE?
A typical EMDR session lasts from 60-90 minutes. How many sessions are needed will be up to you.
SO WHAT IS EYE MOVEMENT ALL ABOUT?
We are stuck with the original name of the therapy. What is important is that both right and left sides of the brain are stimulated alternately. This happens naturally when you walk, go for a run, or if you have a great sound system in your car and can hear music through the right and then left speakers.
In my practice, clients choose from audio or sensory stimulus. It is merely a matter of personal choice. I do not ask clients to use eye movements because it could cause eyestrain.
WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE ABOUT EDMR?
Visit www.emdria.org for more information. You may also wish to read Emotional Healing at Warp Speed: The Power of EMDR. This book is an exciting read with great personal stories.
*Portions reprinted with permission of the EMDR International Association