(Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)

What is EMDR?

Researched through numerous controlled studies, EMDR has been found to be a highly effective approach to Trauma therapy.

The idea behind EMDR is that traumatic events are not processed at the time they happened but are instead "locked" into the brain. Without processing, these preserved memories can be suddenly "triggered" by sights, sounds, smells, emotions, and sensations. EMDR allows the brain to return and process these memories in a safe way using alternating eye movements, hand taps or sounds. EMDR is a complex procedure and can only be done by a properly trained therapist.

How EMDR works

During EMDR, the client is asked to focus simultaneously on the emotionally disturbing issue and on external stimuli achieved through eye movements, or alternating sounds or taps. It is believed that the act of tracking the alternating stimuli helps "unlock" the memories and accelerate the information processing needed for the traumatic issues to be resolved.

With the therapist's guidance, all the elements of the original traumatic experience (the circumstance, the sensory reminders of it, the emotions and body sensations evoked, the underlying beliefs, and overall meaning) are focused on and transformed to new, adaptive beliefs and feelings, while the emotional intensity around the issue is reduced significantly.

What to expect with EMDR

A thorough assessment and a preparation stage precede the EMDR processing sessions. Typical EMDR sessions are 90 minutes long. Because intense emotional states may be evoked during these sessions, there are physical and psychiatric conditions for which EMDR may be contraindicated. For more information about EMDR, please check out the EMDR Canada and EMDRIA sites.

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