Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy approach that was developed by psychologist Francine Shapiro in the late 1980s. It is primarily used to treat individuals who have experienced traumatic events and are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other trauma-related conditions. However, EMDR has also been applied to treat other mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and phobias.
EMDR combines elements of various therapeutic approaches, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, and bilateral stimulation. The primary feature of EMDR is the use of bilateral stimulation, which can be achieved through eye movements, tapping, or auditory tones. The bilateral stimulation is believed to facilitate the processing of distressing memories and help individuals integrate traumatic experiences in a healthier way.
The key components and processes involved in EMDR are as follows:
- Assessment and preparation: The therapist conducts an initial assessment to gather information about the patient’s history, traumatic experiences, and current symptoms. The patient and therapist establish a therapeutic alliance, and the patient is prepared for the EMDR process by learning grounding techniques and coping skills to manage distress.
- Desensitization: The patient identifies a specific traumatic memory or distressing event and holds it in mind while simultaneously engaging in bilateral stimulation. This can involve following the therapist’s fingers moving back and forth, listening to alternating tones, or experiencing bilateral tapping or other sensory stimuli. The bilateral stimulation is thought to activate the brain’s natural processing mechanisms and facilitate the integration of traumatic memories.
- Cognitive restructuring: During the desensitization phase, the patient focuses on negative beliefs associated with the traumatic memory and identifies more adaptive and positive beliefs to replace them. This process aims to change the person’s perception of themselves, others, and the world.
- Installation: Once the distress associated with the traumatic memory decreases, the patient is guided to strengthen the positive beliefs and internalize a sense of resilience and self-acceptance.
- Body scan and closure: The therapist guides the patient through a body scan to ensure that any remaining physical sensations or tension associated with the memory are resolved. The session is then closed, and the client may be encouraged to engage in self-care and grounding exercises.
EMDR is often delivered in a structured format, with a specific number of sessions varying depending on the individual’s needs and the complexity of their trauma. While EMDR predominantly utilizes bilateral stimulation, it may also involve other therapeutic techniques such as cognitive restructuring, imaginal exposure, and resourcing for emotional stabilization.
Speak with an Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR) Specialist at The Hummingbird Clinic.
Our highly-trained therapy professionals are ready and able to help you through the process at every turn. To start your journey, contact one of our therapists that specializes in Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing.
If you have any questions about therapy or are not sure about how to get started, contact us anytime!