What is EMDR and how does it treat trauma?​

EMDR or Eye Movement Desensitization, and Reprocessing, is a psychotherapy developed for treating trauma. It utilizes rapid eye movement to move the trauma from a place in the brain where it is disturbing to a place in the brain where it is no longer disturbing.EMDR was initially developed to treat PTSD. Now this methodology has expanded to treat eating disorders, substance abuse disorders, complicated grief, self-esteem issues along with many other problems that are trauma based in origin.To find a therapist near you, all one needs to do is log onto the website “myemdrtherapist.com”.


EMDR is a specialized therapy that requires specific certification and training. Not all therapists use this specific modality. If you have been in talk therapy and feel that you have never been able to get unstuck or process your trauma, EMDR might be the right modality for you. You can find an EMDR therapist near me and connect with best therapist in your locality.


What is the actual format of an EMDR session?


The therapist helps the patient to identify traumatic events that the patient has experienced. This is usually done in a chronological order starting from the earliest event. The traumatic event that is chosen for reprocessing is scaled from 0-10 with 10 being the most disturbing and 0 the least disturbing.The patient is then asked to bring up a picture of the event, where it is held in their body, what their thoughts and feelings are and what the negative cognition is that best fits that picture. Then using rapid eye movement therapy for trauma or another form of bilateral stimulus like tapping the reprocessing begins.The patient is directed to let their brain do the work and not direct the flow. After each set of bilateral movements the patient is asked what they’ve noticed and processing continues until the issue is resolved. At the end of the session the scale of 0-10 is used to assess how the reprocessing has gone. The ideal resolution will be a 0 or a 1. If it’s higher, reprocessing continues until the number on the scale is reported to be a 0 or a 1.Once the event is cleared the therapist asks the client to scan their body to see if there’s anything left. If so that is processed, if not the therapist and patient find a future template that might be similar to the event processed. That future template is also scaled from 1-7 with 7 being believing it the most and 1 the least. Once the future template becomes a 7 the reprocessing is finished for that particular trauma. This format is followed for each traumatic event until the work is finished.


How long does EMDR take?


Of course each individual is different in the way they process and how long it takes. If someone has one small trauma like a car accident, that will be a short time. If there are years of childhood abuse, that therapy will be far longer.


What has been the evolution of EMDR as a mainstream therapy for treating trauma?


EMDR was discovered when the developer, Francine Shapiro, was walking and thinking about something sad and found her eyes moving back and forth bilaterally. She realized she was less sad and decided to explore this phenomenon of rapid eye movement. She was a Ph.D. student in psychology and decided to do her dissertation on this and thus the development of EMDR as a psychotherapy to treat trauma using rapid eye movement therapy for trauma. Of course there have been many changes as more research has been done and therapists have used this as a treatment modality.


In fact, EMDR is a recommended treatment for trauma and supported by the American Psychological Association, The Veteran’s Administration, the American Psychiatric Association, and the Department of Defense.


rapid eye movement

Copyright © 2022. Stephanie R. Baron, PhD. All rights reserved