What is EMDR?

For years, I have worked with clients struggling with a past that keeps creeping up in their here and now. I’ve used Cognitive Behavioral therapy, as well as Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior therapy, to address these issues with some success. In my quest to find a more effective treatment, I began reading about EMDR. I was impressed with the science behind the treatment and invested two years to become a certified EMDR therapist. EMDR is by far the most effective way that I have found to get to the root of the memory.

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing and was first described by Francis Shapiro in 1987. Fast forward to today. After years of rigorous research EMDR is now considered the “A” level treatment for trauma, by the World Health Organization (2013), the Department of Veterans Affairs & Department of Defense (2010) and the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (2005). Insurance companies now recognize EMDR as an affective treatment modality and reimburse for treatment.

EMDR therapy is a comprehensive approach that addresses the physiological storage of memories and how that informs our present day experience. When traumatic events occur, they are typically inadequately processed and incorrectly stored. The good news is our minds are designed to heal. Using EMDR techniques we access the incorrectly stored memories with bilateral stimulation; which, can be administered with eye movement, as well as other sensory stimulation. Change happens as a byproduct of reprocessing memories and allowing those memories to integrate with other similar experiences. Ultimately, my clients report feeling “lighter.” They no longer carry the emotions attached to past memories so close to the surface. It becomes easier to let go of things that once triggered extreme emotional responses.

Check out the EMDRIA website for a deep dive into what EMDR is all about.