June 14 Fact

EMDR

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a powerful psychotherapy technique for treating PTSD and and other mental health issues. EMDR is simple to use, produces fast results, and moves PTSD sufferers steadily toward recovery.

Briefly, EMDR repeatedly activates opposite sides of the brain to use its mind/body connection to “clean house,” or release trapped emotions. Here’s how it usually works:

  1. After establishing a trust relationship with the client, the therapist suggests the EMDR technique.
  2. The therapist asks the client to bring to mind a traumatic event.
  3. As the client begins recalling feelings, thoughts, and memories of this event, the therapist conducts bilateral stimulation by:
    • Moving his/her fingers or an object back and forth about 18 inches from the clients’ eyes, with the client tracking the object back and forth
    • Rhythmically tapping a clients’ knees, hands, or shoulders back and forth
  4. These combined actions put both the “logical” and “feelings” sides of the brain to work. When the trauma first occurred, the feelings side of the brain did all the processing. With EMDR, the client can reprocess the trauma more completely, using both sides of the brain

As the description of the trauma and the brain stimulation occur simultaneously, the client’s brain processes the trauma in a more objective way than when first experienced. Most patients can then realize that the trauma has happened in the past; it’s not still going on (as PTSD would have us believe). This frees the client to “file away” the trauma in the past, where it belongs. They can truly say, “I’ve put that behind me.”

Clients often say that although remembering the trauma again is terribly difficult, the results of EMDR therapy are worth the effort.

If anyone reading this has experienced EMDR therapy, we’d love to hear from you.