Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, developed by Francine Shapiro PHD, is an evidence-based, structured treatment that has been proven through research to help relieve the effects of trauma. It can also be applied to a wider range of concerns in therapy. It is specifically designed to work faster than most talk therapies. In fact, EMDR does not always require a lot of talking during a session, and there is no homework between sessions.
EMDR can help improve:
- troublesome relationship patterns
- substance use and addiction
- fears and phobias
- all types of traumatic events
- emotional flashbacks
- violence and abuse
What to Expect at Your Appointment?
Your therapist will explain the process of EMDR and together you will decide if it is a good fit for you. There are 8 phases of EMDR that involve history taking, learning coping and relaxation skills, and identifying the present problem and what past events may be related to it. Your therapist will help with coming up with a mutually agreed upon treatment plan that is unique to you.
Eye movements are not a requirement for this therapy to work. Other methods such as audio tones, electronic tappers, or having the therapist gently tap the person's knees can replace eye movements. It's normal for each person to have a different preference.
The basic technique of EMDR involves the therapist assisting the person as they recall a distressing memory, think of an image related to the memory, and pair it with a negative belief about the self while they simultaneously move their eyes back and forth. The back-and-forth eye movement allows the brain to target memories stored in our neural pathways and remove any negative emotional blocks that may be in the way of the brain's natural healing process. EMDR’s foundational philosophy holds that what has happened to us in the past may still be affecting us in the present. Until we address the root cause of our distress, it will likely keep coming back.
How Long Does EMDR Take?
EMDR can be brief only lasting a few sessions or may take longer depending on the concern at hand. Most sessions are an hour but some are 90 minutes.
As mentioned, EMDR has become one of the first-line treatments for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This therapy can be tailored to fit a person's needs when trauma is involved. Complex trauma therapy can take more time than average to work through. Even though EMDR is designed to work faster, there is no rush to the process. Your therapist will always aim to meet you where you are in your journey.
If you would like to learn more about EMDR, click here.