EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing. It was developed in 1987 by Dr. Francine Shapiro to resolve the development of trauma-related disorders as a result of disturbing or traumatic life experiences. Initially, it was utilized for the most extreme cases such as veterans struggling with PTSD. In recent years, therapists have found it to be a most effective treatment for a variety of life experiences which leave a client feeling stuck.
There are two important elements to EMDR Therapy. The first is something called “bilateral stimulation”--which means “two-sided stimulation.” This refers to activating both the right and left hemisphere of the brain. This is achieved gently with either lights, sounds or a tapping. The second important element to EMDR is the intuitive method in which the therapist will prompt and guide your thoughts while you're experiencing the bilateral stimulation.
The end result of EMDR treatment is to reduce and eliminate negative thoughts & feelings. You will still remember the event, but it will be less likely to stop you cold in your tracks or cause you a physical or emotionally traumatic response when remembering it. EMDR can be used to increase and strengthen positive thoughts and feelings, and to enable you to really be at your best in your everyday life.
Some additional information about EMDR
December, 2005 Harvard Mental Health Letter (“Post-traumatic Stress Without Trauma”): Experiences not usually regarded as traumatic can cause the characteristic symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder.
Life events (such as relationship problems, work problems, financial problems, school problems, health problems, significant losses or life changes) are as likely as traumatic events to cause symptoms typical of post-traumatic stress disorder. In fact, people whose worst event was not traumatic had more post-traumatic stress symptoms for a longer time than those whose worst event was traumatic.
www.EMDR.com (The EMDR Institute)
EMDR has been judged as empirically validated and given a rating of "highest level of effectiveness" in numerous international practice guidelines including The American Psychiatric Association Practice Guidelines.
EMDR is the most researched psychotherapy method for PTSD. There are more controlled studies that have evaluated the effectiveness of EMDR in the treatment of PTSD than any other method.
As of 2002, more than 20 controlled outcome studies of EMDR have already been published and/or presented. These studies all found EMDR superior to the control condition on measures of PTSD, with EMDR using fewer treatment sessions to achieve effects. Follow up studies at intervals up to 5 years after treatment have indicated a high level of maintenance of treatment effects.
EMDR is on the American Psychological Association Division of Clinical Psychology’s list of empirically validated methods. Only two other methods are even on this list for the treatment of PTSD.
The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies has stated that EMDR is an “effective treatment.”
The United Kingdom Department of Health has listed EMDR as an effective treatment.
EMDR is endorsed by the American Red Cross, the FBI, the International Critical Incident Stress Management Foundation, and major HMO’s such as Kaiser and Value Options.
EMDR courses are being taught in over 30 colleges and universities, and it is part of the standard treatment in many VA hospitals.
EMDR was used extensively to treat survivors in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, and in New York after 9-11.
Research presented in the Fall of 2003 in Chicago by Dr. Bessel A. van der Kolk, M.D. is showing EMDR to be more effective than the SSRI’s (drugs like Prozac & Zoloft). (Dr. van der Kolk is Professor of Psychiatry at Boston University Medical School, Clinical Director of the Trauma Center at HRI Hospital in Brookline, Massachusetts, and past President of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS). He has taught at universities and hospitals across the United States and around the world, including Europe, Africa, Russia, Australia, Israel, and China. He has been active as a clinician, researcher and teacher in the area of stress since the 1970s. He has published extensively on the impact of stress on human development, and his book Psychological Trauma was the first integrative text on the subject. His latest book explores what we have learned in the past 20 years about the role of stress in psychiatric illness, and his current research is on brain imaging and how stress affects memory processes.)