What is EMDR?

EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is a clinically researched method of therapy that has been shown to be an effective treatment for trauma.  Since EMDR is a method of treatment rather than a technique, therapists who use EMDR are required to be certified in EMDR through the EMDR International Association.

EMDR was developed in 1987 by Dr. Francine Shapiro.  Dr. Francine Shapiro found that eye movements affect the intensity of problematic thoughts in clients who suffer from these thoughts.  EMDR uses eye movements to help clients reprocess traumatic events in a way that allows them to be able to remember the traumatic event with fewer effects of the trauma such as images, sounds, smells, and troublesome or disorienting feelings.

Depending on the type of trauma and other circumstances related to the trauma, EMDR can bring some relief in as little as one session. EMDR can help children who have experienced trauma or children who struggle with anxiety or depression. Adults and teenagers considering EMDR can expect the following as they begin treatment. Clients would begin by learning coping skills specific to EMDR, as well as assessing their readiness and ability to participate in EMDR. Then, they would begin taking a history and creating a timeline of their trauma. After setting everything up, they would participate in “targeting” an event which includes the worst part of the event, negative beliefs about the event, and emotions related to the event. They would choose a method of processing using either eye movements or tappers (small buzzers they hold in each hand). Then the therapist and client would begin processing the event, pausing in between sets to check-in for a moment and then back to processing again. Most people find after 1-3 sessions their negative feelings related to that specific targeted event have subsided (although it does depend on the nature and the strength of the event; for complex trauma, it can take 12 or more sessions).

We have several therapists on staff who are trained in EMDR: Casey West, MA, LPC, Hannah Pitman, MA, LPC, Carolyn Dixon, MSW, LCSW, and Rachelle Honohan, MSW, LCSW-S. We encourage you to investigate this exciting and powerful method of treatment, and would love to talk with you further to help determine if it is right for you. For more information about what to expect or what the experience of EMDR can be like, please call our office and Rachel (our office administrator) will be happy to answer your questions.

Here's to Health,
The Abundant Life Counselors

Further Resources:
EMDR International Association Website
3 minute news clip about EMDR
EMDR Simulation with a child (English subtitles available)
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