“I discovered EMDR when I was trying to quit smoking. I had attempted to quit several times but always went back after just a few weeks. After just one session, the immediate cravings had GREATLY reduced and through the sessions, I gained some clarity on the reasons why I started smoking in the first place, which made it much easier to stay away from it. I highly recommend EMDR!” – M
EMDR is a powerful technique used by extensively trained therapists to reduce feelings of emotional distress related to past experiences. By reprocessing and desensitizing old memories, you can create opportunities for relief, freedom, and joy in everyday living.
WHAT DOES IT TREAT?
Originally developed to treat PTSD and general trauma-related symptoms, EMDR has since been proven to be effective in treating anxiety, panic, childhood depression and anxiety, phobias, grief, depression, sexual dysfunction, dissociative disorders, somatic symptoms, and myriad forms of cognitive and emotional pain.
WHAT TO EXPECT
EMDR therapy is an eight-phase treatment, often characterized by the later phases, which use eye movements, tactile input, or auditory tones to desensitize disturbing emotional states and internalize new perspectives.
The eight phases are:
Phase 1: History and Treatment Planning
Phase 2: Preparation
Phase 3: Assessment
Phase 4: Desensitization
Phase 5: Installation
Phase 6: Body scan
Phase 7: Closure
Phase 8: Reevaluation
Each of the first 3 phases can take anywhere from one to a couple of sessions for relatively straightforward trauma experiences, such as singular events that happened in adulthood. The more repeated the trauma and the younger the person was at the time it occurred, the more complex the symptoms and their treatment. Phases 4-8 are repeated every session once processing begins. For more information about EMDR processing and overall treatment, check out this page.
EMDR has an extraordinary amount of research considering that it is a relatively “young” therapy—roughly 35 years old. The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, rated EMDR a “Level A” treatment, the highest possible rating.
Controlled studies suggest that EMDR is as effective as CBT with exposure therapy. Advantages of EMDR over exposure therapy include the fact that EMDR does not require any homework, in comparision with CBT, which requires 1-2 hours per day. Additionally, EMDR processing is not prolonged; rather, its length is determined by you and your therapist. Finally, EMDR does not require a verbal narrative, since it utilizes trauma distress stored by the body, making it effective for pre-verbal and neglect-related trauma.
For more information, EMDR International has a comprehensive overview of EMDR.
Find out more about EMDR from the EMDR Institute in their short video, featured at the bottom of the page.