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Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

What is EMDR?

EMDR is an acronym for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.  It is an innovative form of counseling that links many successful elements of several therapeutic approaches, in combination with rapid eye movements, to successfully treat post-traumatic stress (PTSD) and other psychiatric disorders.

The eye movements help effectively stimulate the brain’s information processing system, which can generate significant treatment outcomes in a short period of time.  The client can choose from three bi-lateral modes of stimulation to help process and resolve the trauma.  These include lateral rapid eye movements, bi-lateral tactile stimulation on the hands, or the use of sound/music through headphones.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is a fast and effective method, which can reduce/end physical manifestations of the trauma, bring about relief of affective distress, restructure cognitions, and provide significant desensitization of the traumatic events, improving Client’s ability to function in their present circumstances.



Treatment Process:

The EMDR treatment process uses a Subjective Units of Disturbance Scale (SUDS) to identify the level of the traumatic event.  The scale starts at zero and goes to a high of ten.  Clients are asked to pick a number indicating how disturbing the incident feels to them now.  As the therapy proceeds, the clinician will monitor the Client’s SUDS level.  The goal is to help the client desensitize the trauma so that the SUDS level will be reduced to a one or zero.  This helps to put concrete, numerical goals into the treatment and the Client has a method by which to give the clinician clear feedback about the progress of the treatment.  Clinicians are trained in the use of a specific, written treatment protocol that both structures the treatment and maximizes the potential for successful symptoms reduction and Client satisfaction.

This therapy can help with both the healing of psychological pain and physical discomfort related to trauma, depression, anxiety and self esteem issues.  It is used to accelerate the treatment for both upsetting past events and present life conditions.

Francine Shapiro, Ph.D. developed EMDR in 1987 and to date over 30,000 mental health therapists in 52 countries have been trained.



Effectiveness of Treatment:

Fourteen controlled studies support the effectiveness of EMDR.  The most recent five studies with individuals suffering from events such as rape, loss of a loved one, accidents, natural disasters, etc. have found that 84-90% no longer had post-traumatic stress disorder after three treatment sessions.

A recent study financed by Kaiser Permanente revealed that EMDR was twice as effective in half the amount of time compared to the standard traditional care.


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