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What is EMDR?

What is EMDR and Why Does it Work? Soultenders

The EMDR International Association (EMDRIA) states “Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an extensively researched, effective psychotherapy method proven to help people recover from trauma and other distressing life experiences, including PTSD, anxiety, depression, and panic disorders” ( EMDR is an approach to psychotherapy including principles, procedures, and protocols beyond a simple technique. 

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an eight-phase psychotherapy approach that helps people recover from trauma without having to provide details or having to talk at length about the traumatic experience(s). EMDR treatment guidelines have been published by the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, the World Health Organization (WHO), and various national and international organizations, such as the American Psychiatric Organization, among others.

How it all began: 

Francine Shapiro is the originator of EMDR. In 1987, she was in the Palo Alto area up in Northern California taking a long walk in a park when she noticed that while she was feeling upset and quite bothered by a personal situation, she began to move her eyes side to side involuntarily. This repetitive eye movement action gave her room to feel less distressed as time went by. Francine felt perplexed with her experience. She began to talk to friends and family and slowly realized that something powerful and transforming was happening. Her EMDR pilot research became one of the first published randomized controlled studies and it was published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress. It examined one-session effects with traumatized individuals.

Why does EMDR work?

For clients:

  • EMDR therapy is quite transforming. Clients report permanent healing and resolution to their problematic symptoms quite quickly. 
  • EMDR Therapy is client centered and works directly with brain memory functioning and its memory network. EMDR methodology is based on the principle that everyone has both an innate tendency to move towards wellness, and the inner capacity to reach it. 
  • EMDR Therapy uses The Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) model to help clients reset into health and wellness again. This model propels discarding of trauma, non-adaptive perceptions, affects, and sensations. 
  • EMDR Therapy focuses on the memory itself rather than targeting reactions to traumatic/disturbing experiences, such as biofeedback, flooding or relaxation training.  

For therapists:

  • EMDR is quite rewarding based on the client’s response to treatment, success rate, and permanent shifts observed and noted by clients and therapists themselves. 
  • EMDR therapy is physically and mentally less burdening for therapists. The work of healing from trauma relies totally on clients’ brains and their capacity to work towards wellness. Therapists’ work focuses more on becoming a guide and a supporter of clients’ trauma reprocessing journey, rather than the task of giving clients session after session.  
  • EMDR therapy opens a wide range of opportunities for networking and professional development. The EMDR Francine Shapiro Library offers thousands of journals, articles, and most recent research concerning trauma and trauma impact. EMDR Therapy is internationally approved and practiced, therefore, EMDR therapists can expand their social networking by meeting colleagues all over the world through EMDRIA annual conferences, Special Interest Groups, advanced trainings, etc.

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