Karolle A. Gjaltema
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychological intervention to resolve the negative impact of traumatic experiences.
- Traumatic experiences can be seen as a continuum from extreme to mild trauma.
- EMDR can also be used to address negative core beliefs that a person may hold about themselves or the world that can develop through the experience of trauma.
Symptoms that are often significantly relieved include: flashbacks, nightmares, somatic arousal, distress and anxiety associated with traumatic memories, sleep disturbance.
Resolution of trauma can improve self esteem, mood, and levels of trust in others. It can be life changing for some.
EMDR assists in integrating memories. Traumatic memories are stored in a different part of the brain than other memories. PET (positron emission tomography) brain scans capture images of areas in the brain the ‘light up’ when active and give an indication of where the memory is stored. Because traumatic memories have not been processed neurologically, a person can suffer all the heightened and terrifying emotional and physical sensations of the original trauma whenever the memory is triggered. After using EMDR on patients, PET scans have shown that the area in the brain where traumatic memory is stored no longer ‘lights up’. Further more when the client is asked to recall their traumatic memory, the part of the brain where normal memories are stored lights up instead.
- EMDR is not a miracle cure. It needs to be done in the context of a trusted therapeutic relationship with a trained EMDR therapist. An assessment needs to be completed to ensure the appropriateness of this intervention. EMDR should be used in conjunction with other therapeutic modalities.
- EMDR’s effectiveness has been widely researched. It was first developed by Dr Francine Shapiro in 1987. It is a treatment that is used extensively internationally.
- If a person has a single incident of trauma, experienced as an adult, EMDR can be very rapid and take as little as one session. If there is a long history of trauma (eg. Emotional or sexual abuse or neglect in childhood), it will take longer and will need to be combined with other treatment methods.
A recent client's feedback:
Thank you for introducing me to EMDR. Just one session has
literally transformed my life. After years of self-doubt, I
now wake up every morning confident of my place in my world". (R.D.4.07.13)