Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma and other mental health issues. EMDR is recognized as an effective treatment by the American Psychological Association, World Health Organization, U.S. Dept. of Veteran Affairs/Dept. of Defense and many others.
EMDR is used to treat a wide range of issues, including:
- Low Self-Esteem
- Pain Disorders
- Disturbing Memories
- Performance Anxiety
- Substance Abuse
- Sleep Disturbances
Research on EMDR
- There are more than 30 positive controlled outcome studies done on EMDR therapy.
- Some studies have shown that 84-90% of single Trauma Victims no longer had PTSD after just three 90 minute EMDR sessions.
- Another study showed that 77% of Combat Veterans were free of PTSD symptoms after only 12 EMDR sessions.
- In a randomized controlled trial, just two early intervention EMDR sessions were effective in reducing work-related PTSD, anxiety and depression symptoms in First Responders on active duty.
What does EMDR treatment look like?
EMDR is an 8 phase treatment that involves helping clients process memories or experiences that may be associated with current symptoms or problems in their life, such as self esteem issues, PTSD symptoms, phobic reactions, anxiety and more.
During the beginning phases of treatment, the clinician will gather information about the client’s history, discuss the problem or issues that brought them into therapy and identify their goals. The clinician will help the client identify target memories or events to process with EMDR and develop an individualized treatment plan. Specific targets of focus in EMDR include 1) events from the past that have contributed to current symptoms or issues that brought them into treatment, 2) present situations/triggers that cause distress and 3) future events in which they want to feel differently and handle more effectively.
The clinician will help prepare the client for reprocessing the identified target memories and teach them any skills they might need to stay calm and manage any disturbing emotions that arise during the reprocessing phase. During the reprocessing phase of treatment, clients will be asked to notice different aspects of an identified memory (such as images, feelings, sensations, beliefs about oneself) while moving their eyes back and forth (or some other form of bilateral stimulation) and to “let it go wherever it goes” while noticing their experience. The bilateral stimulation will be repeated for several sets until the material is processed and the client’s distress level when recalling the memory has decreased.
In later phases of EMDR, bilateral stimulation is used to strengthen the positive, more adaptive beliefs the client feels about themselves now. Each target memory will be processed in this way. EMDR helps the brain digest the event/material in a natural way, resulting in relief from symptoms and the development of new understandings and perspectives that lead to positive and lasting change.
EMDR can be delivered in regular weekly, one hour sessions or in an intensive format (3-6 hours for consecutive days) for even faster results.
Clients who want accelerated results, have experienced a recent disturbing event and need immediate attention, or do not wish to attend traditional weekly EMDR sessions due to time or scheduling constraints may choose the EMDR Intensive format of treatment.