Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a specific technique for working with emotionally charged material that is interfering with daily functioning and quality of life. It is a method that taps into the natural ability of the mind-body system to heal itself. In addition to the treatment of acute trauma (i.e., witnessing or experiencing bodily harm to self or others) and symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, it has also been found to be effective in treating developmental traumas (i.e., chronic issues stemming from negative early life/childhood experiences). It has also been used successfully to treat other related issues, such as anxiety, depression, phobias, sexual abuse, panic attacks, obsessive compulsive disorders, and eating disorders.

How Does It Work?

EMDR utilizes what is referred to as bilateral stimulation (which commonly take the form of either side-to-side eye movements or tapping knees) that cross the midline of the body and thereby activate both left and right brain hemispheres. EMDR seems to unlock the nervous system and allows the necessary parts of the brain to process or move through the experiences that we are “stuck” in. This assists in processing and integrating deeply buried or core emotional material more effectively or efficiently than “talk therapy” alone.

“Desensitization” refers to the fact that emotional disturbance associated with traumatic memories is eliminated over time. “Reprocessing” means that we replace unhealthy, negative beliefs that were associated with the negative or traumatic memories with more positive and healthy ones.

Because of its ability to get to the root of emotional issues, EMDR, when used properly, can quite often significantly shorten the overall period of time spent in therapy for a variety of problems. In recent years, scientific research has increasingly backed the efficacy of EMDR for dealing with acute Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

For more information about EMDR, please see my Links and Resources page.