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WHAT IS EMDR?
EMDR or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is a new treatment procedure for persons suffering from trauma, phobias, anxiety and other defeating conditions. It offers the potential for rapid treatment.
In EMDR, participants identify their level of anxiety, their negative self-beliefs and the positive self-belief statement that they want. The client measures anxiety and positive belief statements on a subjective scale. Anxiety is measured on a 0 to 10 scale with 0 being no anxiety and 10 the most anxiety a person can imagine. Measurement of positive beliefs takes place on a 1 to 7 scale with 1 being completely untrue and 7 completely true. Clients again measure treatment anxiety and the positive belief statements on the same scales after treatment with EMDR.
Research studies have consistently shown dramatic results. In a 1988 study, participants reported anxiety levels that averaged 7.45 on the 10 pt. scale. They reported the positive belief statement as 3.95 on a 7 pt. scale. After treatment participants reported they reduced anxiety permanently to 0.73 or less on the 10 pt. scale. The reduction in anxiety and the elevation of positive self-image has continued at low levels in follow-up studies. Therapists and clients who work with EMDR are also seeing and experiencing these results outside the study.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
EMDR utilizes saccadic eye movements, back and forth eye movements, similar to those that occur naturally during REM sleep. REM or Rapid Eye Movement sleep is the dream stage of sleep. Dreams are an important part of the natural process that each of us utilizes to maintain our mental health. REM sleep appears vital to our mental health. Persons deprived of REM sleep become irritable and if deprived long enough may begin to hallucinate.
In EMDR the eye movement is done in a controlled setting with the assistance of a trained therapist. Thus, EMDR appears to take advantage of a natural healing process. Enhancement of this natural process takes place by focusing on unresolved material. By choosing and focusing on the traumatic material to be reprocessed and choosing an outcome the client gains better control of the results.
IMPORTANT ELEMENTS OF EMDR
EMDR achieves these gains because it combines three important elements in the reprocessing of trauma. These are: environment, response and meaning. Techniques that aid a survivor in reprocessing all three of these simultaneously produce the best results for reducing and eliminating the pain trauma survivors experience.
Environments consist of all the sight, sounds, smells, etc., present around the time of the trauma. Response consists of the emotions, physical reactions, etc., of the survivor around the time of the trauma. Meaning is what the victim of the trauma learns or believes about themselves as a result of the trauma. For treatment to be effective, all three factors must be addressed simultaneously. With EMDR the survivor changes the meaning and the traumatic memories and phobias are desensitized. In this way, EMDR is uniquely powerful and effective.
EMDR has had more published case reports and research to support it than any other method used in the treatment of trauma. Over 20,000 clinicians have been trained worldwide, which is considered mandatory for appropriate use.
Since 1988, individuals who have been treated with EMDR have reported that the changes they experienced, such as the ending of flashbacks, the improvement of self-esteem, etc., continue very much the same today as at the end of treatment. Almost universally, trained therapists see these same kinds of changes with their clients.
Positive therapeutic results with EMDR have been reported with a wide range of populations including:
Last modified: 10/12/09