Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is considered a leading approach for alleviating trauma & PTSD-related distress. EMDR Therapy was developed by Francine Shapiro in 1987. Shapiro discovered that certain eye movements decrease negative emotions. The process entails a person thinking about a traumatic memory while experiencing a distraction via bilateral stimulation.
What is Bi-Lateral Stimulation?
Bilateral stimulation is stimuli (visual, auditory, or tactile) that occur in a rhythmic left-right pattern. For example, visual bilateral stimulation could involve watching a hand or moving light alternating from left to right and back again. Our brains typically respond well to rhythmic repetition. The repetition helps synchronize between the left and the right brain hemispheres and access the REM. Most people find bilateral stimulation very calming.
What is REM?
REM stands for rapid eye movement. REM is a deep state of dreaming where the brain naturally reprocesses and consolidates negative experiences. EMDR Therapy taps into these natural healing processes, which helps to process and consolidate traumatic memories of the client’s choice. The client is fully awake and cognizant during the EMDR process. EMDR is not hypnosis. EMDR is similar to Accelerated Resolution Therapy (A.R.T.) but is not A.R.T.
How is EMDR Therapy Different from A.R.T.?
EMDR, like A.R.T., helps to process distressing memories, but with a greater focus on verbal expression during the reprocessing. EMDR also works more directly with self-limiting beliefs or so-called negative cognitions by reprocessing the underlying sources of those beliefs and then replacing them with more positive or adaptive beliefs. This process is natural and frequently happens on its own as a result of reprocessing.
Does EMDR Work?
Since 1987, scientists have conducted over 30 studies of EMDR Therapy that demonstrate positive outcomes. EMDR post-treatment studies show that when a traumatic memory is fully processed, it loses significance. As a result of EMDR, a person feels calmer, less anxious, and more depressed. They are no longer reliving the trauma.
Can EMDR Help with Other Concerns?
Yes, EMDR Therapy can help with many other concerns. In addition to trauma and PTSD, EMDR can be very effective with anxiety, depression, phobias, social anxiety, panic attacks, performance anxiety, stress reduction, addictions, sexual and physical abuse, nightmares, and many other concerns.
Ina Lasmane has been a Certified EMDR Therapist since 2012.