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All About EMDR

What Is EMDR

Considered a relatively new treatment, EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing and is used in psychotherapy.

Simply put, during an EMDR therapy session, a trained therapist will ask the patient to recall a traumatic event and wave their finger side to side, mimicking what naturally occurs during dreaming. Other methods may include the therapist tapping their finger or playing a tone. This bilateral stimulation is associated with a reduction in the vividness and emotion associated with the trauma memories. This process can change the way a patient processes the traumatic event and can help them heal more quickly.

EMDR Therapy

EMDR is similar to brain spotting therapy but instead of just focusing on eye position, EMDR focuses on the swift bilateral movement.  During brainspotting therapy, a trained therapist will use a laser pointer to direct the patient’s gaze and be able to uncover sources of negative emotion, and map out “brainspots”, pockets of vision wherein a person activates a traumatic memory. For more on how brainspotting works .

EMDR For Kids

EMDR therapy is said to not only be safe for children but highly effective even after a few sessions. This type of therapy is also recommended by the World Health Organization. When a child experiences trauma, they may have recurring nightmares, difficulty eating and sleeping, behavioral outburst, mental health issues and regression is basic skills. EMDR is good to get before these develop further. Without treatment, childhood trauma can effect braind development and cause additional health problem into adulthood. Good Therapy notes, “The therapist should have training in how to apply the method to the child’s specific developmental needs and an ability to explain the process to the child in a way he or she will understand.”

EMDR in Pop Culture and Society

As EMDR becomes more mainstream as many celebrities have opened up about their positive experiences with EMDR therapy. On World Mental Health Day actress Jameela Jamil shared her struggle with severe PTSD and even tried to take her own life. She shared via Twitter that EMDR turned everything around for her and encouraged her followers to seek help. Other celebrities that have opened up included Mel B, Evan Rachel Wood and EMDR was even discussed in a recent episode of the highly popular tv series Greys Anatomy.

EMDR therapy has also been used to treat people involved in mass disasters. Unfortunate occurrences such as mass shootings or extreme natural disasters can result in mass trauma. EMDR is helpful from those directly and indirectly affected by the trauma and survivors guilt. More recently, some communities create “restorative retreats” where EMDR therapy is being applied in a group setting.

The Future of EMDR

With the overwhelming positive results and recent popularity of EMDR, more scientists have become optimistic as well as developed increased interest for further research. Not only will EMDR continue its roll in private psychiatric practices but also move its way into public psychiatric settings and services.