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Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR)

What is EMDR?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a method of psychotherapy that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma.  EMDR is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches. To date, EMDR has helped an estimated two million people of all ages relieve many types of psychological stress.

How Does it Work?

No one knows how any form of psychotherapy works neurologically or in the body. However, we do know that when a person is very upset, their brain cannot process information as it does ordinarily. One moment becomes “frozen in time,” and remembering a trauma may feel as bad as going through it the first time because the images, sounds, smells, and feelings haven’t changed. Such memories have a lasting negative effect that interferes with the way a person sees the world and the way they relate to other people.

EMDR seems to have a direct effect on the way that the brain processes information. Normal information processing is resumed, so following a successful EMDR session, a person no longer relives the images, sounds, and feelings when the event is brought to mind. You still remember what happened, but it is less upsetting. Many types of therapy have similar goals. However, EMDR appears to be similar to what occurs naturally during dreaming or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Therefore, EMDR can be thought of as a physiologically based therapy that helps a person see disturbing material in a new and less distressing way.

But does it work?

Approximately 20 controlled studies have investigated the effects of EMDR. These studies have consistently found that EMDR effectively decreases/eliminates the symptoms of post traumatic stress for the majority of clients. Clients often report improvement in other associated symptoms such as anxiety. The current treatment guidelines of the American Psychiatric Association and the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies designate EMDR as an effective treatment for post traumatic stress. EMDR was also found effective by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense, the United Kingdom Department of Health, the Israeli National Council for Mental Health, and many other international health and governmental agencies. Research has also shown that EMDR can be an efficient and rapid treatment.

What conditions is it effective for?

Scientific research has established EMDR as effective for post traumatic stress. However, clinicians also have reported success using EMDR in treatment of the following conditions:

  • panic attacks
  • complicated grief
  • dissociative disorders
  • disturbing memories
  • phobias
  • pain disorders
  • eating disorders
  • performance anxiety
  • stress reduction
  • addictions
  • sexual and/or physical abuse
  • body dysmorphic disorders
  • personality disorders

For more information contact Denise at 604-562-9130

Also the following websites provide more information:
http://www.emdria.org
http://www.emdrcanada.org

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