EMDR is a psychotherapy treatment that helps people find relief from emotional distress.
EMDR is unique from other types of psychotherapy because of the Eye Movement (EM). Side to side eye movements, or other forms of “bilateral stimulation” (such as alternating side to side vibrations in a hand-held device) are used in EMDR treatment.
People typically experience a deeper sense of relief when bilateral stimulation is used in psychotherapy in conjunction with other therapy techniques. Because of this finding, the research, development, and greater use of EMDR has continued over the past several decades.
It works !
This treatment has been used for over 25 years, and has been studied widely. EMDR has been proven to be effective in treating strong emotional pain more quickly than other types of therapy in more studies than the number of years it has been in practice. EMDR is recognized as an effective psychotherapy method to treat trauma and other types of emotional pain by many organizations. These include the World Health Organization, the American Psychiatric Association and the Department of Defense. People have reported longer lasting and more stable relief of symptoms of post-traumatic stress and other emotional pain after having EMDR treatment versus other types of therapy.
EMDR helps us to pull apart associations we have made – both consciously and unconsciously – that are not feeling accurate or helpful in our lives now. It helps us integrate our lifetime of experiences – to feel more whole. EMDR allows us to see ourselves, and therefore our circumstances more clearly. One of the most impactful results of EMDR is that it helps us hold on to, and more effectively use the strengths we have gained through our experiences - while letting go of the pain we may have that can get in our way.
EMDR is integrated into the whole process of psychotherapy in a manner that makes sense for each individual seeking the treatment. There are eight phases to EMDR, starting with all the basics that every psychotherapist utilizes. The first steps include an intake appointment or two, to get to know you and understand what the most important things are for you to focus on in this work. This is part of an assessment that informs you and the therapist as to what areas you may need to strengthen in order to be ready to do deeper work. It is important that it is carried out in this way so that the therapist knows you well enough to guide you properly through the healing process.
Next phases include checking on how well you are able to bring yourself to a calm place when you become anxious or triggered emotionally. This phase may be fairly quick, or it may take some time. Then you will work with the therapist to create a treatment plan to work on a specific issue that is most concerning you. After this has been developed, you will work on the Desensitizing and Reprocessing phase of EMDR (the DR part). This may take a few sessions, or many, depending on your treatment plan. This is an intense part of the therapy, and most people feel relief at the end of each session to some degree. If not, your psychotherapist knows how to help you feel grounded and ready to move on with your week until you meet again. Once you have worked through your treatment plan, your therapist will check with you to see whether you feel equipped to deal with situations that have triggered you in the past.
EMDR is for anyone who feels stuck in negative patterns that do not seem to match who they feel they truly are, or could be. It is for those of us who have experienced abuse, neglect, or other traumatic events in our lives.