Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is a psychotherapy approach that was developed by psychologist Dr. Francine Shapiro in the late 1980s. EMDR is primarily used to treat individuals who have experienced traumatic events and are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other trauma-related conditions.
During an EMDR session, the therapist guides the client through a series of bilateral stimulation techniques, which may involve eye movements, hand taps, or auditory tones. These bilateral stimulations are designed to stimulate both sides of the brain, facilitating the processing and integration of traumatic memories.
The process typically involves the following phases:
1. History taking: The therapist gathers information about the client's trauma history and identifies specific traumatic memories to target during the EMDR session.
2. Preparation: The therapist helps the client develop coping strategies and relaxation techniques to manage distressing emotions that may arise during the session.
3. Assessment: The client focuses on a specific traumatic memory while simultaneously engaging in bilateral stimulation. This process allows the client to access the memory, the associated emotions, and related beliefs or negative thoughts.
4. Desensitization: The therapist continues the bilateral stimulation while the client holds the traumatic memory in mind. Over time, the emotional intensity and distress associated with the memory typically decrease.
5. Reprocessing: The therapist facilitates the client in replacing negative beliefs or thoughts with more adaptive and positive ones.
6. Installation: The therapist helps the client reinforce positive beliefs and cognitions to replace the negative ones previously associated with the traumatic memory.
7. Body scan: The therapist assists the client in checking for any remaining physical sensations or tension associated with the memory.
8. Closure: The therapist ensures that the client is emotionally stable before ending the session.
The client may also learn self-soothing techniques for ongoing emotional support.
EMDR aims to help individuals process traumatic memories and integrate them into their overall life experiences, reducing the distress and negative impact caused by the trauma. It is often used in conjunction with other therapeutic approaches to address a variety of mental health concerns beyond PTSD, including anxiety disorders, depression, phobias, and more.