What Is EMDR?

EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is a treatment modality that was developed in 1987 by a clinical psychologist, Francine Shapiro. It is used as a salient and effective method for working through patients who have experienced a trauma.

The basic premise of EMDR is that most psychological disorders or symptoms are based on earlier life experiences. Painful experiences often become “frozen” in brain neuro networks, which sets in motion a pattern of feelings, behaviors and cognitions. These create which predictable, rigid responses to triggers which which may be reminiscent of the original traumatic event.

EMDR treatment is designed to rapidly metabolize (reprocess and functionally organize) dysfunctional residue from the past traumatic experiences and even turn these experiences into something useful. With EMDR painful experiences undergo a change in form and meaning.

In cases of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), panic disorder, some forms of depression and other psychological illnesses or syndromes, pathology is viewed as result of, or impacted by earlier experiences that are held in the nervous system in a state specific form. Painful experiences are reprocessed using an 8 step protocol administered by a trained clinician. During reprocessing, the memory system is stimulated and the painful incident is experienced in a way that provides additional insight and feelings that are enhancing rather than harmful to the person. The goal of EMDR is to “free” a person from being triggered by the earlier traumatic incident.

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