Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a relatively new form of psychotherapy that is designed to reduce trauma symptoms related to stress, anxiety and depression associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and a wide range of other emotional problems. EMDR can also be used to treat less severe traumatic events or problems such as relationship break up, job loss or anger managment.
EMDR works on the premise that past and present traumatic events are stored in our memory networks in an incomplete or dysfunctional manor. These memories appear to be stored in their original form with all of the negative elements of distorted thoughts, emotional pain and physical sensations. That is why you can recall a painfull or traumatic memory in great detail and may suffer the original pain of that event as if it were happening now. We re-experience these traumatic events or symptoms each time we are triggered by current events that link to or are associated with past memories. In that moment the past becomes the present and our thinking and emotions get hijacked from the past. The chronic nature of linking present events or experiences with negative events from the past is the basis of much of our emotional suffering.
EMDR therapy utilizes an eight phase approach to access the Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) system in the brain to help intergrate and resolve traumatic memory. The Desensitization phase of (EMDR) therapy utilizes eye movement, tones or tappers to access the memory network and re-process traumatic memories. This re-processing or intergration of traumatic memory appears to release much of the emotional and physiological pain associated with the event and helps develop links to more adaptive and healing memory networks. The effects from EMDR treatment are experienced in the brain form the bottom up. Which means the lower part of the brain which is responsible for physiological responses reacts first by decreasing tension. This is followed by decreased worry in the upper part of the brain responsible for thinking and emotional regulation. Because this order works well with how the brain normally processes information, the effects of EMDR treatment are often experienced more quickly and easily than top-down stratigies such as traditional psycotherapy.
All photos and text are the property of David M. Goldsmith, LCSW