EMDR: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
By: Jane Beckmann, MSW, LCSW
EMDR, discovered in 1987, is a treatment modality used mostly to reduce or eliminate the painful, sometimes terrifying symptoms of PTSD.
In EMDR both sides of the brain are alternately stimulated, usually through back and forth movement of the eyes. While this bi-lateral movement is taking place the client is asked to recall the traumatic memory, which when installed in the brain contained the associated emotions, beliefs and physical sensations as they were experienced at the time of the original event.
As many sets of eye movement and memory retrievals are repeated, the brain's processing system makes new internal connections and associations to the event. As these emerge the therapist helps the client give new meaning to the event that caused pain and horror, low self-esteem, anger, anxiety and social isolation for many years. In a relatively short period of
time, the strong negative emotionality of the memory is reduced or eliminated altogether and non-rational beliefs such as self-blame are transformed into more realistic, positive and life affirming beliefs.