What is EMDR?
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an extensively researched, effective psychotherapy method proven to help people recover from trauma and other distressing life experiences, including PTSD, anxiety, depression, and panic disorders. Learn the basics here.
How is EMDR different than other therapies?
EMDR therapy does not require talking in detail about the distressing issue or completing homework between sessions. EMDR therapy, rather than focusing on changing the emotions, thoughts, or behaviors resulting from the distressing issue, allows the brain to resume its natural healing process. EMDR therapy is designed to resolve unprocessed traumatic memories in the brain. For many clients, EMDR therapy can be completed in fewer sessions than other psychotherapies.
How EMDR affect the brain?
Our brains have a natural way to recover from traumatic memories and events. This process involves communication between the amygdala (the alarm signal for stressful events), the hippocampus (which assists with learning, including memories about safety and danger), and the prefrontal cortex (which analyzes and controls behavior and emotion). While many times traumatic experiences can be managed and resolved spontaneously, they may not be processed without help.
Stress responses are part of our natural fight, flight, or freeze instincts. When distress from a disturbing event remains, the upsetting images, thoughts, and emotions may create an overwhelming feeling of being back in that moment, or of being “frozen in time.” EMDR therapy helps the brain process these memories and allows normal healing to resume. The experience is still remembered, but the fight, flight, or freeze response from the original event is resolved.
What does an actual EMDR therapy session look like?
Learn the 8 phases of treatment here.
Is there research that supports EMDR?
Twenty-four randomized controlled trials support the positive effects of EMDR therapy in the treatment of emotional trauma and other adverse life experiences relevant to clinical practice.
Seven of 10 studies reported EMDR therapy to be more rapid and/or more effective than trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy.
Twelve randomized studies of the eye movement component noted rapid decreases in negative emotions and/or vividness of disturbing images, with an additional 8 reporting a variety of other memory effects.
Numerous other evaluations document that EMDR therapy provides relief from a variety of somatic complaints.