Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is multi-phase (8) form of therapy. It is  based on the theory of information processing.  EMDR sessions focus on reprocessing the information associated with past, present or future experiences that are experienced in an overly emotional or negative way.  These targeted experiences are often associated with pathologies such as phobias, panic disorder, PTSD and depression.

EMDR sessions involve tapping into present feelings and thoughts about past and future events by using:

  • Images
  • Sounds
  • Emotions
  • Smells
  • Body Sensations
  • Negative cognitions

Negative cognitions are the irrational beliefs held on to by the patient as a result of the past event.  These types of beliefs are very damaging because they usually reinforce and mimic the person’s thought style in other areas of life.  The level of insight and willingness to make changes varies from person to person but EMDR can help the person gain insight and reduce the level of spontaneous reactions in similar situations.  

Eye movements:
During the session, the therapist uses the information provided by the patient to help them re-assess the stuck material by connecting them to different parts of their brain.   Eye movements are used to neurologically stimulate both sides of the brain so that images, feelings, negative cognitions become desensitized.

Research has shown that bilateral stimulation of the brain helps to engage the autonomic nervous system into a –state- of- relaxation (increasing para-sympathetic arousal and increased HRV- These are great things!). This activation of the relaxation side of the nervous system can then become active in assisting in the desensitization process of the event.

EMDR is effective for both large and small traumas.  It has been shown to be effective in treating PTSD and  phobias . EMDR therapy can be done as a solo therapy or as an adjunct to another therapy such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.