Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). Don’t let the name intimidate you; EMDR is an effective treatment for traumatic memories that cause the symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Developed by Francine Shapiro, Ph. D. in the 1980’s, EMDR has been well researched and proven to be an effective first-line treatment for trauma. Through the use of EMDR, trained clinicians have been able to help thousands of individuals become free of the intense, disabling symptoms of PTSD.
EMDR requires the therapist and client to work together to identify possible troubling memories that are the “targets” for treatment. These targets are rated for their emotional intensity and associated negative beliefs are identified (e.g., “I am powerless”). The client then focuses on the memory and feelings and the therapist leads the client in a rapid back-and-forth eye movement for a brief interval. For reasons not entirely understood, the eye-movement facilitates a “reprocessing” of the memory. This processing allows the person’s mind to work through the memory, with the end result a reduction in emotional intensity. At the end of treatment, the individual usually has a much more objective, logical response to the trauma (e.g., “I can move on now”).
EMDR is especially helpful for acute, intense emotions such as fear and anxiety associated with trauma. It has also been used successfully for a wide range of less intense but equally troubling emotion-based disorders, ranging from depression to self-esteem issues. Here at RCHL we use it when indicated as part of a comprehensive plan to decreasing negative emotional states and improving a person’s emotional functioning. Gerald E. Snook MA, LLP first received his EMDR training in 1992.