What is EMDR?

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a treatment modality that can be helpful in working with trauma. It has been in use since 1988, and has been extensively validated in a large body of scientific research. It is one of the most highly recommended treatments for PTSD by the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization, and the U.S. Department of Defense.

EMDR uses visual, audio, or tactile bilateral stimulation to activate the brain's innate capacity for self-healing: Traumatic events are encoded in memory differently than non-traumatic events. They are stored in isolation, and can generate maladaptive thoughts, emotions, behavior patterns, and physical symptoms such as headaches, chronic muscle tension, or even chronic illness. Adaptive information (for example, a cognitive understanding that "it wasn't my fault," "I'm safe now," or "I'm allowed to say 'no'") is stored elsewhere in the brain. It can't connect with, nor impact, the traumatic memories. This is why people may say something like, "I get what happened, and that it wasn't my fault, but I still feel ashamed and defective," or "I know my supervisors like me, so why do I still feel anxious and start to shake whenever I have to ask them for something?"

Bilateral stimulation allows the adaptive information to access and "re-process" the traumatic memories. After treatment, although the traumatic events can still be remembered, it is no longer disturbing to do so. Equally significant, negative beliefs about the self (such as "I'm disgusting," "I'm not safe," or "I have no control") have been transformed into positive ones that are genuinely believed and deeply felt.

To learn more about EMDR, please visit emdr.com.

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DEPRESSION   |   ANXIETY   |   LGBTQ ISSUES



RELATIONSHIPS   |   COUPLES THERAPY



SEXUALITY   |   IDENTITY ISSUES



SEX ADDICTION   |   DRUG ADDICTION



LIFE TRANSITIONS   |   PANIC DISORDER



PERSONALITY DISORDERS



PTSD   |   TRAUMA   |   SEXUAL ABUSE



BIPOLAR DISORDERS   |   GRIEF COUNSELING

 

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