Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR is a therapeutic strategy that has been very successful in helping people who struggle with anxiety and other emotional disturbances. In my practice, I have successfully treated clients suffering with low-self esteem, depression, anxiety and panic disorders, sleep disturbances, and other issues using EMDR.

Here is some helpful information:

After much research, it has been realized that EMDR is very successful in treating anxiety as well as many other issues. It was first used and researched with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with war veterans.

Through accessing the nervous system, we tap into a healing process that the body already does naturally. The body is designed with the ability to heal itself. When you get a cut, you don’t have to think your way through healing the cut. The body already knows what it wants to do.

A similar response happens when the therapeutic strategy EMDR is applied. When the brain and body know what information to work on, the healing happens naturally. The body will keep the information it finds helpful and heal (or release) the information that it finds unhelpful.

EMDR can be thought of as accessing old experiences or beliefs that happened earlier at some point in life and reorganizing the information so that it can be filed more appropriately. Irrational beliefs form out of emotional experiences at any point in life - be it from childhood trauma or from situations that occurred as an adult. Feelings such as of being out of control or not being safe in a situation will leave a lasting impression. Often this results in symptoms of depression and anxiety. This information gets stored in a separate filing cabinet in the mind. The problem lies in the fact that those old beliefs act like a filter for future experiences and cause emotional disturbance later in life.

EMDR allows both sides the adult brain the access the information in that separate filing cabinet and reorganizes it so that it can be filed more appropriately. Information becomes filed with no emotion attached and the intensity is released. Any disturbing memories or thoughts become filed like an old memory and can be set aside.

Memories, body sensations, or beliefs that cause distressing emotional responses (what one might call being triggered), are reprocessed and become restored into healthy, nondistressing form. We become informed by our memories, not controlled by them.

Parnell, L. (2007). A Therapist’s Guide to EMDR. New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc.

Shapiro, F. (2001). Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. New York: The Guilford Press.

Shapiro, F. & Forrest, M.S. (1997). Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing: The Breakthrough “Eye Movement” Therapy for Overcoming Anxiety, Stress, and Trauma. New York: Basic Books.