I have been getting a lot of calls lately regarding my use of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). It seems that word has gotten around about the effectiveness of this treatment and that more people are searching for a counselor/therapist that is trained to use it. I am pleased and honored to have gone through eight full days of training in the use of EMDR as well as a period of consultation in its protocols. Although, I am not certified in the technique I have completed levels 1 and 2 of the training.
The EMDR international Association (EMDRIA) described EMDR as “an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. EMDR is a set of standardized protocols that incorportates elements from many different approaches”
Ok, so what does that mean? Well, The protocols are a set of guidelines that trained practitioners use to assist clients in processing traumatic events and stimuli. The practitioner starts out by establishing a strong relationship with the client so that the client feels safe and cared for. This relationship helps the client to trust that when difficult emotions arise the counselor is there for support and will walk alongside them through the experience. The next step is to identify the specific traumatic event or events that the client would like to process. After identifying this target event the counselor assists the client in recognizing specific thoughts, and feelings about the event that tend to provoke strong emotions or sensations. The client rates these thoughts and feelings on a likert scale (1-10) as a way to measure how effective the processing of the treatment has been. After this “assessment” phase the counselor and client begin to process the trauma using Bi-lateral stimulation (eye-movement). These eye movements, directed by the therapist, allow the client to access memories, thoughts, feelings, and sensations associated with the events to be processed and to desensitize the client to the material. This process results in the client being able to think about the traumatic experience with less emotional difficulty, subsequently decreasing symptoms. The entire process is experienced within the safe environment established by the client/counselor relationship.
The following quote from the EMDRIA website provides a very succinct understanding of what it means to “process” trauma
“Processing does not mean talking about it. Processing means setting up a learning state that will allow experiences that are causing problems to be ‘digested’ and stored appropriately in your brain.”
Again, according to EMDRIA, EMDR has been demonstrated effective for treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). However, it has also been used for other issues such as Panic attacks, complicated grief, phobias, performance anxiety and stress reduction.
The 8 Phases of EMDR treatment are listed below.
- History and Treatment planning
- Body Scan
If you are considering EMDR treatment for PTSD or another issue I encourage you to visit these websites to learn more about the treatment
EMDR International Association
If you decide that EMDR is the right treatment for you give me a call at 217-231-1413 to schedule an appointment or go to EMDRIA FIND A THERAPIST to find a therapist in your area.