What is EMDR?
EMDR helps to put the past in the past, where it belongs, instead of staying stuck in it (feeling like it is happening all over again in the present – with the same thoughts, emotions and body sensations – that have accompanied the event in the past)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is a late-stage, trauma resolution method. Developed in the late 1980’s, EMDR currently has more scientific research as a treatment for trauma than any other non-pharmaceutical intervention. Based on empirical evidence as well as thousands of client and clinician testimonials, EMDR has proven an efficacious and rapid method of reprocessing traumatic material.
EMDR appears to assist in processing of traumatic information, resulting in enhanced integration – and a more adaptive perspective of the traumatic material. The utilization of EMDR has been shown to eliminate the need for some of the more difficult abreactive work (i.e. reliving the trauma), often associated with the psychoanalytic treatment of a variety of conditions, including generalized and specific anxieties, panic, PTSD symptoms (such as intrusive thoughts, nightmares, and flash-backs), dissociative disorders, mood disorders and other traumatic experiences.
So, theoretically, EMDR is about integration – bilateral hemispheric (right/left brain) integration; triune brain (brain stem, limbic system and cerebral cortex) integration; and at least some type of mind/body integration, but practically, it’s about convincing the mind and body that the traumatic event is, indeed over.
How is EMDR Done?
EMDR is accomplished in four steps:
- Establishment of Safety within the therapeutic relationship and within each individual EMDR session. During each EMDR session, your therapist will begin by activating your own internal resources. Your thearpist will guide you in an imaginal, multi- sensory imagery exercise designed to activate images, emotions and body sensations of safety, protection, nurture and comfort. Once these images have been activated, the actual trauma re- processing will begin.
- Activating the Traumatic Memory Network The therapist will ask a series of questions regarding the traumatic memory. The purpose of these questions (or script) is to activate the entire traumatic memory network.
- Adding Alternating Bilateral Stimulation Once the entire traumatic memory is activated, the therapist will add alternating bilateral stimulation via any or all of the following:
- begin the buzzing in your hands by turning on the Theratapper.
- play alternating auditory tones via headphones or ear buds.
- tracking the therapist’s finger with your eyes, so you may visually track the movement across the midline of your body.
- Reestablishment of Safety Regardless of whether the traumatic material was completely processed or not, the session will end at a pre-set time. Before you leave, you will be stable, embodied, oriented and calm. Depending on you and your therapist’s preferences, this may be accomplished in a variety of ways including, but not limited to re-activating your own internal resources, breathing exercises, prolonged muscle relaxation, etc.
What Should I Expect from My Therapist?
As a client, you should expect that your therapist will, and does continuously and vigilantly attend and re-attend to your safety and stabilization needs. To that end, please be aware that you are entitled to, and should expect the following:
- A solid therapeutic relationship, i.e. a good rapport and adequate trust in your therapist.
- An explicit crisis plan, co-written by you.
- Psychoeducation regarding trauma, its effects, after effects and current treatment options, including the modalities utilized by your therapist.
Be sure to ask your clinician specifically what all of this means and how (s)he will prepare you for reprocessing traumatic material.
Client and Clinician Resources
Integrative Trauma Treatment
This site is dedicated to the dissemination of resources for those affected by and/or clinicians treating those affected by the sequelae of psychological trauma www.integrativetraumatreatment.net
Sidran Traumatic Stress Institute, Inc.
To understand, recover from, and treat:
- Traumatic stress (including PTSD)
- Dissociative disorders
- Co-occurring issues, such as addictions, self-injury, and suicidality.
For Articles, Fact Sheets, Brochures: www.sidran.org
David Baldwin’s Trauma Pages
The support links on this page are primarily for those seeking information about types of trauma, trauma responses, ways of coping with stress, treatment approaches, and related mental health issues. www.traumapages.com/support.php
EMDR Institute, Inc.
For general information and frequently asked questions on EMDR visit: www.emdr.com