Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an interesting and complex approach to psychotherapy that incorporates much of the wisdom of other therapies. Although most people have come to associate it with eye movement, the fact is that EMDR is an accelerated form of information processing that includes an eight phase approach and numerous procedural elements that contribute to its success. EMDR is used within a comprehensive treatment plan to promote your recovery from your difficulty/ies.
Everyone is always asking how EMDR works. We are not sure. Dr. Daniel J. Siegel is a psychiatrist who has taken an interest in this question about EMDR. Also, he is an Associate Clinical Professor at the UCLA Center for Culture, Brain and Development and author of The Developing Mind: Toward a Neurobiology of Interpersonal Experience and Co-author of Parenting from the Inside Out: How a Deeper Self-Understanding Can Help You Raise Children Who Thrive. Here are some of his thoughts about EMDR:
“The mind, which can be defined as the process that regulates the flow of energy and information, is encouraged to process memory and emotion in an efficient and therapeutic manner. As with other forms of psychotherapy, we do not yet know exactly how the healing process occurs in the mind or in the neural processes of the brain. Some authors have proposed that trauma involves an impairment in the integration of various forms of mental processes, such ac memory, emotion, perception, and interpersonal communication, so that individuals may feel excessively constrained or at times flooded in the overall functioning of their minds. From a neural point of view, such an impairment in mental processes may be seen as due to a blockage in “neural integration,” the manner in which the brain brings its circuitry into a functional whole.
From this perspective, healing in psychotherapy would involve the development of the circuits that enable neural integration to occur in the brain. Areas such as the prefrontal cortex, the hippocampus, the corpus callosum, and the cerebellum are regions that may facilitate neural integration and thus are those that may be changing in effective therapy. EMDR may be particularly effective at promoting neural integration through the ways in which its phases activate distinctive processes in the brain, such as thoughts, emotions, memories, and bodily sensations. As the phases progress in EMDR, neural integration may be proposed to be the brain process that is being facilitated during the various phases of treatment. The result of effectively promoting neural integration would be both the alleviation of symptoms and the development of an enhanced sense of wellbeing internally a well as more rewarding experiences interpersonally.”
To date, there are fourteen controlled studies that support the idea that EMDR works well in the treatment of trauma. EMDR is one of the most thoroughly researched methods for these types of problems. In the most recent 5 studies, 84-90% of the people that have had to cope with rape, combat, loss of a loved one, accidents or natural disasters, no longer had post-traumatic stress disorder after only three treatment sessions. Another study underwritten by Kaiser-Permanente, aCaliforniamanaged care company, found that EMDR was twice as effective in half the time when compared to the standard type of treatment.