Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a treatment for trauma developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro in 1989. Research has shown that EMDR Therapy is an effective treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and is also used for the treatment of General Anxiety, Performance Anxiety, Specific Phobias, Grief and Loss, Panic Attacks, Disturbing Thoughts or Memories, and Sexual/Physical Abuse and additional uses continue to evolve.
EMDR Therapy is unique in that clients may choose whether or not to share every detail of a memory with the EMDR therapist. The technique basically helps clients “re-file” a memory into a place in the brain that is not at the forefront so it does not continue to interfere with daily life. The first method of bilateral stimulation required eye movements, however there are alternatives such as tapping and the use of a hand-held tapper. While this process may sound simple, there is an assessment and preparation involved prior to the actual bilateral stimulation. A skilled therapist will assess and provide EMDR if appropriate.
Refiling a Memory
Think about a cluttered desk or computer desktop and your thoughts focus on the clutter every day. Once the clutter is filed away, your thoughts are no longer distracted by the clutter. Similarly, EMDR takes the disruptive thought, reviews it and once cleared, it is filed and no longer “flashing” at you every day. The details of the memory or trauma are not required to be verbalized for this treatment to be effective so this helps clients with trust or other privacy concerns. Once the memory is “refiled,” there is a sense of feeling lighter, increased energy, clarity, and a heaviness lifted. After EMDR, the memory is stored but in a place that is no longer confused or disruptive.
EMDR is known as a rapid treatment that may show results faster than traditional therapy. The standard protocol consists of 8 phases and the results may vary for each individual. While EMDR is considered faster than traditional therapy, a treatment plan and process is involved.
While the initial form of treatment required eye movements, bilateral stimulation may also be obtained by utilizing tapping with theratappers which is a comfortable hand-held device or electronically by way of hand tapping. The therapist will review the appropriate method with you during preparation.
EMDR Therapy requires a therapist to obtain specialized training in addition to their licensing. Approved training programs are offered through EMDR Institute and EMDR Hap and must be approved by EMDRIA, the governing board of EMDR Therapists. Qualified EMDR Therapists have either basic training and received a certificate of completion or they are Certified in EMDR Therapy. A Certified Therapist gained additional hours of EMDR training compared to basic training but both are acceptable. All of our clinicians at Central Valley Family Therapy that provide EMDR treatment have completed the basic training and are working towards or are certified in EMDR treatment.