What is EMDR and How Does It Work?
What is EMDR?
EMDR stands for Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. EMDR is a recent and unconventional type of psychotherapy. Its acceptance is increasing day-by-day and it is especially used for treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) such as physical assault, automobile accidents or rape. EMDR technique was developed by Francine Shapiro, a psychologist, in 1989.
EMDR therapy does not use counseling or medications for treatment, but uses an individual's own rapid, rhythmic movement of the eyes. These eye movements reduce the strain/stress of the memories of previous/old traumatic events which have affected a person deeply.
How Does EMDR Work?
When a traumatic event occurs in our life such as death or accident, it upsets our emotional brain. However, our brain has a natural ability to process traumatic or difficult events same as our skin which has the ability to heal a wound. EMDR therapy seems to encourage the brain's ability to process the previous or old traumatic events and helps in putting them in a correct perspective.
During an EMDR session, the therapist moves his/ her fingers back and forth in front of the patient's face and will ask the patient to track or follow the finger movements with the eyes. While doing this, the EMDR therapist will instruct the patient to recall a distressing or traumatic event from the past including the emotions which the patient feels with it. Slowly, the EMDR therapist will steer the patient to change the disturbing thoughts to more agreeable or pleasant ones. Some therapists may also use substitutes to finger movements such as toe or hand tapping or musical sounds. The patient is asked to rate one's level of distress before and after each EMDR session. The goal of EMDR session is to reduce the negative impact of the distressing memories on the patient. EMDR is used in treating many psychological problems such as Panic attacks, addictions, anxiety, eating disorders, depression, stage fear and discomfort during dental procedures.
Are There Any Side Effects of EMDR?
EMDR seems to have no negative side effects and is considered a safe therapy. Although it's popularity is growing day-by-day, EMDR still remains controversial among a few health care practitioners.