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Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing- EMDR


This therapy is based on the idea that negative thoughts, feelings and behaviors are the results of unprocessed memories.  Once these memories are reprocessed using EMDR therapy they are stored in the way that non traumatic memories are.  Following sucessful EMDR therapy you do not forget what happened but you do not have the emotional reaction to it any more.  For example you may be able to tell the story to someone without crying or feeling sick or you will hear or see something that before triggered the trauma but you do not have any reaction.


  Dale and Ginny are both Certified EMDR therapists by the EMDR International Association

 They both were trained by the EMDR Institute founded by Dr. Francine Shapiro, PhD.


During EMDR, the therapist works with the client to identify a specific problem as the focus of the treatment session. The client calls to mind the disturbing issue or event, what was seen, felt, heard, thought, etc., and what thoughts and beliefs are currently held about that event. The therapist facilitates the directional movement of the eyes or other bilateral stimulation, while the client focuses on the disturbing material, and the client just notices whatever comes to mind without any effort to control direction or content.


Each person will process information uniquely, based on personal experiences and values. Sets of eye movements are continued until the memory becomes less disturbing and is associated with positive thoughts and beliefs about one's self; for example, "I did the best I could." During EMDR, the client may experience intense emotions but by the end of the session, most people report a great reduction in the level of disturbance. 


Scientific research has established EMDR as effective for post traumatic stress.  We also have success using EMDR in treatment of the following conditions:

Panic attacks | Complicated grief | Dissociative disorders | Disturbing memories | Phobias | Pain disorders | Performance anxiety

Stress reduction | Addictions | Sexual and/or Physical abuse | Body dysmorphic disorders | Personality Disorders


We know that when a person is very upset, their brain cannot process information as it does ordinarily. One moment becomes "frozen in time," and remembering a trauma may feel as bad as going through it the first time because the images, sounds, smells, and feelings haven’t changed. Such memories have a lasting negative effect that interferes with the way a person sees the world and the way they relate to other people.

EMDR seems to have a direct effect on the way that the brain processes information. Normal information processing is resumed, so following a successful EMDR session, a person no longer relives the images, sounds, and feelings when the event is brought to mind. You still remember what happened, but it is less upsetting. 


 EMDR appears to be similar to what occurs naturally during dreaming or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. EMDR can be thought of as a physiologically based therapy that helps a person see disturbing material in a new and less distressing way.


Approximately 20 controlled studies have investigated the effects of EMDR. These studies have consistently found that EMDR effectively decreases/eliminates the symptoms of post traumatic stress for the majority of clients. Clients often report improvement in other associated symptoms such as anxiety.


The current treatment guidelines of the American Psychiatric Association and the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies designate EMDR as an effective treatment for post traumatic stress. EMDR was also found effective by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense, the United Kingdom Department of Health, the Israeli National Council for Mental Health, and many other international health and governmental agencies.


Research has also shown that EMDR can be an efficient and rapid treatment.


In 1987, psychologist Dr. Francine Shapiro made the chance observation that under certain conditions eye movements can reduce the intensity of disturbing thoughts.


Dr. Shapiro studied this effect scientifically. In 1989 she reported her success using EMDR with trauma survivors in the Journal of Traumatic Stress. Since then, EMDR has developed and evolved through the contributions of therapists and researchers all over the world. 


One or more sessions may be required for the therapist to understand the nature of the problem and to decide whether EMDR is an appropriate treatment. The therapist will also discuss EMDR more fully and provide an opportunity to answer questions about the method. Once therapist and client have agreed that EMDR is appropriate for a specific problem, the actual EMDR therapy may begin.  Generally EMDR is much shorter treatment than talk therapy.  Each case is different but it is not unusual to have successful treatment in 4-6 sessions.

A typical EMDR session lasts for 50 minutes. The type of problem, life circumstances, and the amount of previous trauma will determine how many treatment sessions are necessary. EMDR may be used within a standard "talking" therapy, as an adjunctive therapy with a separate therapist, or as a treatment all by itself.

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