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EMDR

Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR)

EMDR developed from a discovery made by Dr. Francine Shapiro in 1987 suggesting that repetitive bilateral eye movements (left to right and back to left) could decrease the intensity of negative emotions associated with distressing memories.  Over several years of research and clinical practice, this “bilateral stimulation” technique was combined with other therapeutic strategies to develop what is today known as EMDR.  The history of its development, and the theory behind it, can be reviewed at www.emdr.com. EMDR is a strategy to diffuse the intense distress that historical trauma can cause when it is re-activated by current events.  EMDR is not intended (nor can it be used) to eliminate the memories, which are part of the individual’s history, but to release the energy still locked up in those memories, so they are integrated into the life experience in a productive way, no longer interfering with present-day living. Originally used to specifically target Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, EMDR’s clinical applicability has been widened to effectively treat a broader range of conditions associated with anxiety, depression, and poor self-esteem.  This is especially true when current mood symptoms primarily stem from distorted beliefs about the self, which were formed long ago. Aside from the bilateral stimulation technique, the two cornerstones of EMDR are the principles of dual attention and the adaptive information processing model, or AIP.  Dual attention is designed to decrease the danger of retraumatization while targeting traumatic memories, which can be a problem with other therapeutic strategies.  Part of the client’s attention remains in the safety of the therapist’s office in present time, while doing the work.  The AIP model suggests that the symptoms of trauma result from a “frozen-in-time” neural experience, and that the brain has a built-in capability to process and release the emotional content of that experience.  This happens when that content can be moved out of its disconnected state, and be reintegrated with the rest of the nervous system.  This is the goal of EMDR therapy. Since Dr. Shapiro’s development of the Adaptive Information Processing theory, back in the early nineties, later discoveries in the neuroscientific field have increasingly supported its credibility.  Today, EMDR can be thought of as another way of accessing brain neuroplasticity, and the positive change associated with it.
EMDR
Licensed Clinical Psychologist