EMDR is a structured therapy that encourages the patient to focus briefly on the trauma memory while simultaneously experiencing bilateral stimulation (typically eye movements), which is associated with a reduction in the vividness and emotion associated with the trauma memories. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an extensively researched, effective psychotherapy method proven to help people recover from trauma and PTSD symptoms. Ongoing research supports positive clinical outcomes showing EMDR therapy as a helpful treatment for disorders such as anxiety, depression, OCD, chronic pain, addictions, and other distressing life experiences (Maxfield, 2019). EMDR therapy has even been superior to Prozac in trauma treatment (Van der Kolk et al., 2007). Shapiro and Forrest (2016) share that more than 7 million people have been treated successfully by 110,000 therapists in 130 countries since 2016.
The American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the U.K. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs/Dept. of Defense, The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, and the World Health Organization among many other national and international organizations recognize EMDR therapy as an effective treatment.
EMDR therapy does not require talking in detail about the distressing issue or completing homework between sessions. EMDR therapy, rather than focusing on changing the emotions, thoughts, or behaviours resulting from the distressing issue, allows the brain to resume its natural healing process.
EMDR therapy is designed to resolve unprocessed traumatic memories in the brain. For many clients, EMDR therapy can be completed in fewer sessions than other psychotherapies.
Our brains have a natural way to recover from traumatic memories and events. This process involves communication between the amygdala (the alarm signal for stressful events), the hippocampus (which assists with learning, including memories about safety and danger), and the prefrontal cortex (which analyzes and controls behaviour and emotion). While many times traumatic experiences can be managed and resolved spontaneously, they may not be processed without help.
Stress responses are part of our natural fight, flight, or freeze instincts. When distress from a disturbing event remains, the upsetting images, thoughts, and emotions may create an overwhelming feeling of being back in that moment, or of being “frozen in time.” EMDR therapy helps the brain process these memories, and allows normal healing to resume. The experience is still remembered, but the fight, flight, or freeze response from the original event is resolved.
While the effectiveness of EMDR for PTSD is well established, there is a growing body of research that supports the use and effectiveness of EMDR for the following issues:
EMDR therapy is a mental health intervention. As such, it should be offered by a properly licensed clinician who has received formal training in EMDR. EMDR cannot be offered via videoconference, only in-person session are possible.
I am an EMDR therapist trained according to the standards set by Emdria.org, the international governing body that sets the standards and training protocols for EMDR worldwide, working towards advanced Certification.
Our initial session will be an evaluation to see if we both believe that EMDR therapy would be a good fit, and if so, we will work through the eight phases of EMDR therapy.
In session, attention will be given to a negative image, belief, emotion, and body sensation related to this event, and then to a positive belief that would indicate the issue was resolved.
A typical EMDR therapy session lasts at least 50 minutes. EMDR therapy may be used within a standard talking therapy, as an adjunctive therapy with a separate therapist, or as a treatment all by itself.