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The following questions and answers are provided by the EMDR International Association, standardizing organization for training and certification of EMDR treatment.
EMDR is extensively researched and proven effective for treatment of trauma by the American Psychiatric Association, World Health Organization, US Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense, US. Department of Health and Human Services, and others. EMDR is a non-drug, non-hypnosis therapeutic procedure to treat anxiety, depression, guilt, anger and post traumatic responses.
EMDR treatment uses a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches. As EMDR treatment is a mental health intervention, it should only be offered by properly trained and licensed mental health clinicians.
EMDR is a type of therapy used to help people get past whatever is causing them difficulties, so they can become more present and enjoy life. Like other approaches to therapy, we talk about what is happening in your life about what-is-working, what-is-not working, we explore practical solutions and go one step further. By using EMDR processing to work directly with the limbic (emotion based) areas of your brain, we let your brain change the way emotional information is stored. Because new neural-networks are linked during EMDR processing, the brain becomes more open in its ability to find creative solutions to what seemed like unsolvable problems. In addition, because of reduced anxiety, due to the emotional desensitization related to EMDR treatment, life starts to feel better.
During EMDR, we re-visit unpleasant experiences, and awaken thoughts, images, body sensations and negative beliefs. As we do that, we use ‘bilateral stimulation’ (eye-movements, sound or tapping) to let the brain figure out its own way to get resolution with bad feelings, negative thoughts and uncomfortable body sensations.
Following EMDR, people experience and recognize the personal advantages gained from a better balance between emotions and thoughts, becoming more emotionally mature, more relaxed, as confusion lessens and thoughtful clarity increases. In just a few EMDR treatments (which are done after an intake and history gathering) you can begin to realize the following benefits:
Scientific research has established EMDR treatment as effective for post-traumatic stress. Clinicians have also reported success using EMDR with treatment of the following conditions:
Panic Attacks, Complicated Grief, Dissociative Disorders, Disturbing Memories
Phobias, Pain Disorders, Performance Anxiety, Stress Reduction, Addictions
Sexual and/or Physical Abuse, Body Dysmorphic Disorders, Personality Disorders
How was EMDR developed?
In 1987, psychologist Dr. Francine Shapiro made the chance observation that eye movements can reduce the intensity of disturbing thoughts, under certain conditions. Dr. Shapiro studied this effect scientifically and, in 1989, she reported success using EMDR to treat victims of trauma in the Journal of Traumatic Stress. Since then, EMDR has developed and evolved through the contributions of therapists and researchers all over the world. Today, EMDR is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches.
How does EMDR work?
EMDR can be thought of as a physiologically based therapy that helps a person see disturbing material in a new and less distressing way.No one knows how any form of psychotherapy works neurobiologically or in the brain. However, we do know that when a person is very upset, their brain cannot process information as it does ordinarily. One moment becomes "frozen in time," and remembering a trauma may feel as bad as going through it the first time because the images, sounds, smells, and feelings haven’t changed. Such memories have a lasting negative effect that interferes with the way a person sees the world and the way they relate to other people
EMDR seems to have a direct effect on the way that the brain processes information. Normal information processing is resumed, so following a successful EMDR session, a person no longer relives the images, sounds, and feelings when the event is brought to mind. You still remember what happened, but it is less upsetting. Many types of therapy have similar goals. However, EMDR appears to be similar to what occurs naturally during dreaming or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.
How long does EMDR take?
The type of problem, life circumstances, and the amount of previous trauma will determine how many treatment sessions are necessary. One or more sessions are required for the therapist to understand the nature of the problem and to decide whether EMDR is an appropriate treatment. The therapist will also discuss EMDR more fully and provide an opportunity to answer questions about the method. Once therapist and client have agreed that EMDR is appropriate for a specific problem, the actual EMDR therapy may begin....(a typical therapy appointment at Altus Counseling Services is 50 minutes).
Does EMDR treatment really work?
Numerous clinical studies have consistently found that EMDR effectively decreases/eliminates the symptoms of post traumatic stress for the majority of clients. Approximately 20 controlled studies have investigated the effects of EMDR.. Clients often report improvement in other associated symptoms such as anxiety. The current treatment guidelines of the American Psychiatric Association and the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies designate EMDR as an effective treatment for post traumatic stress. EMDR was also found effective by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense, the United Kingdom Department of Health, the Israeli National Council for Mental Health, and many other international health and governmental agencies. Research has also shown that EMDR can be an efficient and rapid treatment.
As reported by the EMDRIA website, a sampling of EMDR clients across North America have said:
"I was a member of the Canadian Army for over 20 years. I suffered from OSI (operational stress injury), depression, and the loss of my daughter and wife killed by a drunk driver. For over a year of treatment and work on my part I have finally found some peace of mind, My anger and depression had lowered to a manageable level. Today, I see the light at the end of the tunnel.... I know that this treatment EMDR is by far the best I ever received in the mental health field, and the great thing is no meds.
Thank you, G.C."
"This is just a note to let you know about how EMDR has changed my little girl. We started therapy in November 2005, and we have had 8 sessions so far. She is 6 years old and has had severe symptoms of PTSD from being abused. Although regular therapy had been a little successful, her progress was slow and arduous. Now, through EMDR my daughter seems happier, and her "fits" (aggressive rages) have been significantly reduced. Even though we are still in EMDR therapy, I could not wait to tell you how much we think this therapy has helped our precious daughter. Nothing we have tried was this successful.
R. A. Colorado"
"A few years ago I underwent EMDR. I was skeptical, of course. At this point in time, however, I see that it saved my marriage, my sanity and my relationship with my children. I was suffering from PTSD after experiencing much loss and never even realized that's what stood in the way of a healthy life. It's a wonderful treatment and more people should be informed about it. I was lucky to run across it by accident.
I am an EMDR Treatment Certified therapist and have received extensive training, consultation and regular recertification through the EMDRA International Association and expert clinicians associated with EMDRIA. EMDRIA does not condone or support uses of EMDR such as a "do-it-yourself" virtual therapy.
My professional practice is focused primarily on Clients expressing concern with anxiety, depression, fear, trauma and overwhelming emotions.
EMDR is extensively researched and proven effective for treatment of trauma
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