Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)

    

EMDR is an acronym for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, an innovative clinical treatment originated and developed by Dr Francine Shapiro in 1987. EMDR is effective in treating individuals who have experienced psychological difficulties arising from traumatic experiences, such as assault, road traffic accidents, war trauma, torture, natural or man-made disasters, sexual abuse and childhood neglect. EMDR is also increasingly used to treat problems which are not necessarily trauma-related, such as panic disorder, phobias, performance anxiety, self-esteem issues and other anxiety-related disorders.

EMDR is a complex method of psychotherapy which integrates many of the successful elements of a range of therapeutic approaches in combination with eye movements or other forms of alternative dual attention stimulation, such as alternative hand-tapping or alternative audio tones, which appear to stimulate the brain's information processing system.

During EMDR treatment the client attends to emotionally disturbing material in brief sequential doses while simultaneously focusing on an external stimulus. EMDR appears to facilitate the accessing of the traumatic memory network and the information is adaptively processed with new associations being made between the disturbing memory and more adaptive memories or information, leading to more complete information processing, alleviation of emotional and physiological distress and development of cognitive insights.

EMDR is a three-pronged approach involving processing of:

  • past events that have laid the groundwork for dysfunction.
  • present circumstances that elicit distress.
  • future templates dealing with potentially distressing situations in a more adaptive manner.