WHAT IS EMDR?
EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It was discovered by Francine Shapiro, Ph.D., in 1987. The name was created after discovering that when you move your eyes back and forth, and simultaneously process a past upsetting event, your thoughts and feelings about the event change. EMDR is a research-based therapy modality.
A more and more recognized therapeutic technique, EMDR is being used with much success all across the world by doctors and therapists.
When Can It Help?
- Loss/Separation/Divorce of a Loved One
- Injury/Trauma to Self or a Loved One
- Car/Work Accident
- Natural Disaster/Fire/War/Terrorist Attack
- Assault/Robbery/Witness to Violence
- Illness /Medical Trauma /Pain
- Rape/Sexual Abuse
- Violence/Physical Abuse
- Any Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Low Self-Esteem/Performance Anxiety
- Relationship Problems
- Mood Swings/Anger Problems/Worrying/Obsessive Thoughts
- Sleep Problems
- Addictive Behaviors, Obsessions and Compulsions
- Substance addictions: alcohol, drugs, smoking, eating, medication
- Unrealistic Feelings of Guilt/Shame
- Recurrent Pictures/Sounds/Sensations/Feelings of Past Memories
- Lack of purpose, lack of connection
- Personal Growth, Spiritual Awakening
Professionals at risk for PTSD who would benefit from EMDR:Police officers, Firefighters, Soldiers and War Veterans, Emergency Room Personnel, Doctors, Journalists, Social Workers, and Therapists.
EMDR has been declared a first line treatment by the US Department of Defense/Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Mental Health Departments of Northern Ireland, and Israel.
HOW EMDR WORKS
Theories about EMDR are mainly based on observed clinical effects. The stimulation of the brain’s left and right hemispheres cause a reprocessing effect. One theory is that eye movements are linked with the hippocampus, (a part of the brain), which is associated with the consolidation of memory.
Providing side-to-side sensations to a person, while discussing traumatic events in a specific, therapeutic fashion, can work wonders in allowing the person heal him- or herself. These side-to-side sensations refer to utilizing both the right and left sides of the body in a constant rhythm, which is called bilateral stimulation. The bilateral stimulation through EMDR can be accomplished through eye movements, by holding alternately buzzing tapers, with tapping, or with alternating sounds.
WHO CAN TREAT YOU?
WHAT TO EXPECT
Sometimes it takes courage and determination to want to revisit the ‘bad times’ of your life. For some situations or people it is fairly easy and what they are working on is being cleared easily. For others it takes time until they feel ready to do so. Most people report feeling “lighter” after the process. Very often one gains insight and views oneself with more compassion and understanding. Usually one feels less concerned about the other people who were part of the memory. Some people will dream more after the process, as the brain still integrates after the session. After your “surgery” you can expect that your emotions and beliefs about yourself in regards to experiences in your life change for the better. Generally, you will feel stronger, be able to think clearer, and have more confidence in doing the things you would like to do. On some occasions people have profound experiences of love and forgiveness, or spiritual experiences and deep insights into themselves and life.
EMDR also helps with performance, and many people start creative projects once the energy necessary to store the trauma is set free. Physical symptoms, such as tension and pain related to the processed memory will be gone or diminished.
THE THEORY BEHIND EMDR
Humans have an inherent information processing system that generally processes the multiple elements of experiences to an adaptive state where learning takes place. Memory is being stored in linked networks that are organized around the earliest related event and its associated affect. Memory networks are understood to contain related thoughts, images, emotions, and sensations. The AIP model, by Francine Shapiro, hypothesizes that if the information related to a distressing or traumatic experience is not fully processed, the initial perceptions, emotions, and distorted thoughts will be stored as they were experienced at the time of the event. Shapiro argues that such unprocessed experiences become the basis of current dysfunctional reactions and are the cause of many mental disorders. She proposes that EMDR successfully alleviates mental disorders by processing the components of the distressing memory. These effects are thought to occur when the targeted memory is linked with other more adaptive information. When this occurs, learning takes place, and the experience is stored with appropriate emotions able to guide the person in the future.
IS THERE EVIDENCE THAT EMDR HELPS WITH POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER?
Yes. EMDR is the most researched psychotherapeutic treatment for PTSD. More than twenty controlled outcome studies have investigated the efficacy of EMDR in PTSD treatment. Sixteen of these have been published, and the preliminary findings of four have been presented at conferences. Studies using waitlist controls found EMDR superior; six studies compared EMDR to treatments such as biofeedback relaxation (Carlson et al., 1998), active listening (Scheck et al., 1998), standard care (group therapy) in a VA hospital (Boudewyns & Hyer, 1996), and standard care (various forms of individual therapy) in a Kaiser HMO facility (Marcus, Marquis, & Sakai, 1997). These studies all found EMDR superior to the control condition on measures of posttraumatic stress.
The efficacy of EMDR in the treatment of PTSD is now well recognized.
In 2000, after the examination of additional published controlled studies, the treatment guidelines of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies gave EMDR an A/B rating (Chemtob, Tolin, van der Kolk, & Pitman, 2000) and EMDR was found efficacious for PTSD. The United Kingdom Department of Health (2001) has also listed EMDR as an efficacious treatment for PTSD.
MY EXPERIENCE WITH EMDR
I am an EMDRIA Certified clinician, using EMDR regularly in my practice for over 11 Years. I am also trained in using EMDR for Performance Enhancement (Grand, Foster) and to treat addictions, dysfunctional compulsions and obsession (Miller) Positive Feeling State Theory and Detur (Popky). I treat substance addiction and non substance, such as sex addiction, shopping addiction, procrastination, workaholism. As a tool for performance enhancement EMDR is very helpful to clear fears of public speaking, or any kind of high stress performance at work, in sports or even fears that keep people from fulfilling their personal dream.
Another area of application I am trained in is to use EMDR for pain reduction and management, and assist in the recovery from somatic illnesses. It is helpful to reduce headaches (Marcus), fibromyalgia, IBS, and the debilitating effects of any illnesses.
A clinician who is EMDRIA Certified in EMDR has been licensed or certified in their profession for independent practice with a minimum of two years. They have completed an EMDRIA approved training program in EMDR, have conducted a minimum of fifty clinical sessions in which EMDR was utilized, and have received twenty hours of consultation in EMDR by an Approved Consultant. In addition they must complete twelve hours of continuing education in EMDR every two years.
I am grateful to have found a tool that really works!
Witnessing my clients move from a state of despair, depression, grief, panic, self-criticism or pain to a place of well being often appears miraculous. After EMDR, clients will say that now they know that they are okay, that they have strength, that the past doesn’t disturb them anymore, or that they can handle the situation now.
On occasions I witness that after successful EMDR treatment, clients’ relationships, work lives’, and happiness have greatly improved. The clients appear empowered and able to utilize innate resources, which weren’t available to them before treatment.
As you clear away “that which you are not” such as an identification with past memories and concepts you can actualize yourself more and come to understand “who you truly are”. A beautiful side effect EMDR can be assisting you in birthing your Authentic Self. With that comes tremendous peace.
(in order to ensure all clients privacy all testimonials are kept anonymous):
After first EMDR for person that wanted to stop with regular drinking:
“I can’t tell you how wonderful I feel since we talked! I’m also happy that I had absolutely no desire to drink last night, so that was equally as wonderful! Many thank you’s to you and I’m very excited to continue this journey and discover the beauty which lies within! ” J.S.
After 6 sessions to treat alcoholism:
“What a gift you are, you are an earth angel for me and for many. I am so grateful to you. Thanks to you I am no longer drinking. My wife is so glad that I have been coming to you and us doing the emdr”. J.S.
After healing childhood abuse:
“After clearing my traumas with EMDR over a year now, it seems my brain does EMDR now automatically, processing things and clearing them out. I can access my Wise Self when I need to. I am so grateful to you”. A.B
“It helped me turn on a switch that I had no idea I had turned off, when I was a little boy and my father hit me. The switch was my happiness my joy, I wasn’t going to give that to people anymore. I was shut down. While this was happening I felt like I was in the Zone, very relaxed in a trance state, and it got brighter and brighter. and now everything looks more colorful.” G.P.
To help with grief, after the first EMDR session:
“it is hard to believe something done in such short amount of time has helped so much. I feel much lighter, and don’t see the negative images of his passing anymore” M.S.
EMDR to clear unwanted sexual compulsion:
“I really, really appreciate working with you, you are truly awesome. Its like the brain is now working properly nothing is sticking out anymore.. I can peacefully go about my day..There is just no interest in going to massage places anymore…. I tried, I had to force myself …there is no more excitement…” S.P.
“After this one session on my obsession to chat with old girl friends on Facebook, I no longer had the desire to do so. I couldn’t believe how I just stopped effortlessly. I am so relieved, I no longer feel guilty and bad. I now can enjoy again my relationship with my wife and daughter.” F.S.
EMDR to clear OCD:
“I felt much better after the first EMDR. For two days I had a warm feeling in my heart”. After the third EMDR: “The hand washing ritual is much better. I no longer need to wash my hands as often and long. I no longer have the obsessive thoughts and needing to check everything 5 times at work.” J.G.
EMDR for weight loss:
“We did an EMDR session a couple of months ago to redirect my craving for carrot raisin bran muffins toward healthier choices. I used to LOVE those things. But since then I can’t seem to think about them. If I try to think about a carrot raisin bran muffin, it’s as if it slips out from under my focus. This is strange but wonderful! Thank you, Monika!” D.G.