Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

Much has written and debated about Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) over the past two decades. At Davellen, we have been trained in both Introductory and Advanced courses of EMDR with Dr Francine Shapiro, a psychologist and senior research fellow at the Mental Research Institute in Palo Alto, USA, who created the treatment in 1987. Since our training, we have been offering and using the treatment of EMDR since the mid-1990s.


EMDR is an innovative clinical treatment, which has successfully helped many people who have experienced psychological difficulties which originate from some kind of traumatic experience, such as sexual abuse, childhood neglect, road traffic accidents and violence. It is also successful in treating other complaints such as performance anxiety, self-esteem issues, phobias, and other trauma-related anxiety disorders.


EMDR is a complex method of psychotherapy which integrates many of the successful elements of a range of therapeutic approaches, and combines them with eye movements or other forms of bilateral stimulation in ways which stimulate the brain's information processing system.


Under most circumstances, we have natural ways of processing problematic and mildly traumatic experiences. We tend to 'process' the experience through conversations with others (and ourselves) and make adjustments over time. However, when a person is severely traumatised, either by an overwhelming event or by being repeatedly subjected to distress, this healing process may become overloaded, leaving the original disturbing experiences unprocessed. These unprocessed memories can be stored in the brain in a form where they can be continually re-evoked when experiencing events that are similar to the original experience.


EMDR utilises the body's natural healing ability and allows the brain to heal psychological problems at the same rate as the rest of the body heals physical ailments. Because EMDR provides for a parallel healing of the mind and body, treatment can be rapid. The number of sessions required for EMDR treatment, however, will vary according to the complexity of the issues at hand. In general, the more isolated the traumatic memory being treated, the shorter the treatment tends to be.


There have been many controlled studies supporting the efficacy of EMDR, making it the one of the most thoroughly researched methods in the treatment of trauma. A recent series of studies with people suffering from a range of events such as rape, combat, bereavement, accidents and natural disasters have found that up to 90 per cent of the participants had significantly reduced symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder following EMDR treatment.


You may be interested to refer to the EMDR Institute, the European EMDR Association and the EMDR International Association for information on the history, efficacy and research base of the treatment.


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