Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. The cumbersome name actually describes a simple, yet profoundly effective, treatment method for a wide variety of mental health issues.
EMDR is based on the Adaptive Information Processing Model, which has to do with how the brain takes in sensory data, categorizes the data, and decides what to do about it. During typical daily activities, this process goes on without our even realizing it. However, certain events, whether they are major traumas or minor disturbing events, can interrupt “adaptive,” or healthy, brain processing, resulting in negative or disturbing emotions getting “frozen” in the system. These emotions get stuck, and can be triggered by routine events in our lives, often resulting in negative beliefs about ourselves that limit or impede our healthy functioning.
By targeting memories of disturbing events, EMDR uses “bilateral stimulation” (activating both sides of the brain simultaneously) to release and neutralize these emotions stuck in our neural networks. This is typically done through a series of eye movements similar to those that occur in REM sleep. As the bilateral stimulation helps the brain process the disruptive material, negative beliefs are weakened, and positive beliefs can be installed and strengthened. The end result is that negative emotions can be cleared, and the thinking part of the brain can be more effectively engaged, helping us make better decisions and come up with effective solutions to problems.
EMDR is safe, effective, and often brings rapid relief of symptoms. Research has shown that EMDR is an effective treatment for the following issues:
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – often associated with combat veterans and crime victims
- Grief and Loss
- Peak Performance – elite athletes use EMDR to achieve peak performance
Anecdotal evidence suggests that EMDR has many other applications, and new and creative treatment protocols continue to emerge as more professionals engage in the practice of EMDR.
EMDR is endorsed as an effective treatment model by the following organizations:
- American Psychiatric Association
- American Psychological Association
- US Department of Veterans Affairs and Defense
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
- World Health Organization
For more detailed information, please visit the website of the EMDR International Association