About EMDR- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

EMDR is a powerful treatment approach and therapeutic tool. Originally developed in 1987 by Dr Francine Shapiro, EMDR is best understood as an integrative therapy. It consists of a set of protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches. 

Numerous research studies have shown that EMDR can be successful in the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and can reduce the symptoms and anxiety, intrusive thoughts, nightmares, and flashbacks associated with this condition. It is also increasingly being used to address many other 'stuck' or distressing conditions and issues, such as depression, anxiety, phobias, and complicated grief. 

While researchers are still not certain about the specifics of what makes EMDR so successful, they believe that the 'bilateral stimulation' or 'dual attention stimulus' has something to do with activating parts of the brain responsible for processing and integrating memeries. The assumption is that this involves a similar process to that which occurs during the REM (rapid eye movement) dream stage of sleeping. The general theory is that EMDR activates the individuals own self-healing system. 

'Ordinary' life events seem to be processed into our memories and become an integrated part of our life stories. When a distressing life event or trauma occurs (such as a road traffic accident, abuse, rape, natural disaster etc.) it seems to overload and upset the balance of the brain's information processing system. This imbalance prevents the negative event from becoming an ordinary memory and the traumatic event seems to get locked in the nervous system with the original picture, sounds, smells, thoughts, physical sensations, and feelings. 

The eye movements, sounds, or taps used in EMDR seem to activate parts of the brain (just as in dreaming) and allow the brain the process the negative experience that it was unable to do when the trauma was occuring. 
Some people experience a high level of emotional and physical sensations that accompany the distressing unresolved memories that are being reprocessed. EMDR does not cause these sensations, rather it is your own body and brain 'digesting' and unlocking or unfreezing the old memory in its attempt to heal and integrate itself. Just as when you cut your finger your body works to heal itself, so it is with emotional and psychological wounds. For some people, other material, in the forms of memories, thoughts, flashbacks, feelings, and dreams may continue to emerge between sessions. This is normal, and will be addressed in the following therapy session. It is often useful to keep a journal or diary after an EMDR session. 

EMDR is a client-centered approach, and it is the client that is always in control. 

I am also a board member on HAP (Humanitarian Assistance Program) UK & Ireland, a charity which provides support and training to areas of conflict. See HAP Website for more information. 

Further information is available at EMDR's main website www.emdr.com or see the Resources and Links page for various other EMDR websites 

"[Dylan] spoke to our sense of scary and liberating isolation: the sense that we were now living on our own, with 'no direction home', that we would have to devise our own rules and our own integrity to make it through all the change"- Rolling Stone article