EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a relatively new and powerful therapy that is used for a variety of issues and problems.
In its early development, beginning in 1987, it was used primarily for clients who were suffering from trauma symptoms - Vietnam veterans, rape victims, earthquake survivors, car accident victims, etc.
Many other emotional problems can be traced back to less disturbing events from childhood, such as chronic criticism, ridicule, bullying, and various kinds of physical or emotional abuse.
Trauma symptoms, whether from repeated disturbing events or from major traumas, can include being easily startled, constant vigilance, nightmares, flashbacks, overall heightened anxiety, panic and emotional numbness.
It is unclear exactly how EMDR works. In a typical session, the client moves his or her eyes back and forth, usually following a moving light or hand, which stimulates both sides of the brain. It is believed that this dual stimulation of both sides of the brain helps traumatic memories become "unstuck" so they can be processed. In the normal course of events, time, talking and dreaming, allow us to work through traumatic experiences so that the memory is no longer emotionally painful. Memories of trauma that are not worked through can continue to haunt a person, raising the same emotions, sensations and even physical feelings long after the event took place. EMDR facilitates this process of working through the problem. While the memory remains, it no longer has the same impact.
EMDR doesn't just involve moving eyes back and forth. Sometimes, dual stimulation is accomplished with sounds or touch. Whatever the technique used, the dual stimulation evokes bodily sensations, thought patterns, beliefs and emotions surrounding the traumatic event, which are then discussed at intervals between repeated stimulation. By the end of the treatment, negative thoughts ("I am bad.") become positive ("I did the best I could.")
Since its inception in 1987, thousands of therapists around the world have completed training in EMDR. They have found that it is helpful in a much broader range of therapeutic issues: abuse, self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and performance enhancement.
With EMDR, therapeutic issues are often be resolved much more quickly than with traditional therapy. It is not appropriate for all clients, nor does it take the place of the essential elements of traditional therapy. But it can be a powerful tool in the healing process.
For more information, contact:
www.emdr.com -- The EMDR Institute, which trains therapists
www.emdria.org -- The EMDR International Association