What is EMDR?

EMDR is the Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Treatment. In 1987 Dr. Francine Shapiro discovered a relationship between eye movements and disturbing thoughts and by working with persons who underwent a trauma developed this treatment method.

This method is used in the treatment of emotional, behavioral and physical effects produced by traumatic events, negative events encountered in daily life and in relationships.

How does EMDR of Benefit?

If a patient had a traumatic experience or had experiences that produced intense negative emotions, the sensory information (received visually, aurally, tactually or through smell) and thoughts may not be recorded by the brain as they should be. When in the future the patient has familiar experiences (image, scent, emotions, visual material etc) which he relates to that particular memory, it can trigger similar emotions to those at the time of the trauma.

The EMDR treatment assists in recording these negative memories in the brain in an orderly manner. The treatment is administered in 8 stages. Various materials are used during these stages (for instance an image relating to the incident selected by the patient), the negative emotions and thoughts it created are discussed, and at the same time certain techniques are used by the EMDR practitioner. He may ask the patient to move his finger in two directions and follow it; he may ask the patient to listen to various rhythmic sounds. In this way the left and right hemisphere of the brain are made to work simultaneously whilst the patient is focusing on the memory. In this way the disturbing memory is re-recorded. The aim is that during the procedure negative experiences are replaced with positive thoughts and positive emotions that become associated with that particular memory. Whilst going through the stages the practitioner provides the patient with feed-back, and by asking questions tries to understand the patient’s thoughts and turn the positive thoughts and emotions into permanent ones. Lastly, scenarios relating to the future are visualized thereby creating positive reactions. The positive effect of EMDR (which comes under the short-term treatment category) on symptoms which have appeared as a result of negative experiences has been proven by a large number of research studies.

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