What is EMDR and How Can It Help you?

fI would like to give you an introduction to this exciting and effective approach in my practice that can make your counselling experience more efficient and effective.

EMDR is an acronym that stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is also known as eye movement therapy or accelerated processing. In 1987, Dr. Francine Shapiro made a chance discovery that has been developed over the years into an effective mainstream treatment option based in research on posttraumatic stress and endorsed by the American Psychological Association.

EMDR is a brain based approach for reprocessing disturbing emotional content from immediate memory to long term memory. EMDR involves an eight step standardized procedure. It starts with a thorough history taking with a focus on early trauma that might be connected with the present difficulty. Once the background information is taken and the targets for reprocessing are identified in conjunction with you, there is less talking involved than with a traditional counselling approach.

At this point the focus is on becoming aware of how and where your feelings, worries and anxieties locate themselves in your body. By focusing both on the your body sensation and eye movements the emotional response tends to be reduced. The focussing activates both sides of your brain and is done either by watching a pen moved from side to side in your field of vision, or you holding a tapping device which produces physical sensations in each hand or side of the body. The actual brain reprocessing activates the components of your disturbing memory or memories which negatively impact(s) your life. Once the processing is completed, the difficult memory or “in your face” emotion is more like a postage stamp memory, rather than a large picture right in front of your eyes. The number of sessions you might require depends upon your particular circumstances, personal history and present coping mechanisms. It is a process that is completely under your control and there is no way to do it wrongly. It is suitable for all ages.

EMDR is a process not a technique. It unfolds according to your individual needs, history, emotional resources and issues. It assists in the development of the individual in the context of the therapeutic relationship with the counsellor. EMDR is applicable to addressing many areas of difficulty you experience such as depression, anxiety, anger, addictions, chronic pain, and early childhood trauma, including physical and sexual abuse. It is also helpful in reducing or eliminating barriers to best performance in sports, public speaking, self confidence and effective work and task completion.

For example, if you witness or are involved in a car accident, it is natural to have disturbing memories, perhaps difficulty sleeping and nightmares, odd body sensations and emotional reactivity. If these last longer than three to four weeks, EMDR can be helpful for you to reduce these interferences in your daily life and regain calmness and improved day to day functioning.

I remember when I was about twelve years old, I saw an older woman, crossing a busy street, struck down with a front end loader. I was very upset. Because my family was not the type to have discussions about feelings, or perhaps I was simply too shocked to say anything at the time, I only came to terms with it through the use of EMDR as an adult. I have been able to let go of my guilt about not saying or doing anything about the situation at the time. In freeing up this memory and the emotional entanglement, I feel more at ease about the situation and understanding that as a child I would not have known what to do and that it was not my fault.

If you are interested in this approach please contact me. For further information, you can google EMDR or go to www.emdria.org or www.emdr.ca .

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