Most people experience shocking or traumatic events—a car accident, abuse and neglect, exposure to violence or a natural disaster—at least once in their lives. These can leave emotional scars, similar to physical injury.
Normal brain processes heal this effect, but we sometimes have difficulty. EMDR can help.
EMDR involves bilateral stimulation of the brain, such as eye movement, bilateral sound, or bilateral tactile stimulation coupled with thoughts, visualizations, and body sensations. Through this dual attention awareness, EMDR allows the client to alternate between traumatic material and the safety of the present moment.
“Dual stimulation” involves bilateral eye movements, tones, or taps. Clients focus on these external stimuli while tuning in to past memories, present triggers, or anticipated future experiences. The client remains in charge, while the clinician facilitates transition toward emerging new insights, helpful changes in memories, or brand-new associations.
This therapy is effective in preventing retraumatization from further exposure to the disturbing memory.
I am a member of the EMDR International Association where I received certification in EMDR. I have used its theory and techniques to help many clients put trauma in the past.
Research on EMDR Therapy Continues
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a comprehensive, integrative psychotherapy approach. It contains elements of many effective psychotherapies designed to maximize the effect of those treatments
- Several meta-analyses have been performed to further evaluate its efficacy in the treatment of PTSD. A 2007 meta-analysis of 38 randomized controlled trials for PTSD treatment suggested that the first-line psychological treatment for PTSD should either be trauma-focused CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) or EMDR.
- Another recent review rated EMDR as an effective method for the treatment of PTSD.
- The International Society of Stress Studies practice guidelines categorize EMDR as an evidence-based level A treatment for PTSD in adults, and adolescents.