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What is EMDR?

The treatment of stress resulting from traumatic events through eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, also known as EMDR, is based upon the hypothesis that there is a physiological component to each emotional complaint.


When an incident occurs that is “traumatic”, the balance in the brain is disturbed. This causes an actual physical pathology in the brain which may create emotional problems and anxieties. The pathology “freezes” the information in its original anxiety-producing form so that the original image of negative feelings, negative self assessment and fears are preserved. This information continues to manifest itself and causes Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), with symptoms such as intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, nightmares, poor self-esteem, and phobias.


These events are countered by stimulating both sides of the brain, which permits the “frozen” information to be desensitized, processed and integrated in a useful manner. This causes a cessation of pronounced PTSD symptoms after completing the EMDR treatment.


The completed EMDR treatment involves a three-pronged approach. The therapist must first address the original incident that established the negative feelings and thoughts. Then she invites the client to imagine the internal and environmental triggers that stimulate the unhealthy behavior. Lastly, in order to desensitize the anxiety response, she installs a desirable thinking and behavioral response, increasing the patients sense of self-confidence and effectiveness. This last step allows new patterns to be established in imagery which increase the likelihood of a long-term therapeutic effect in their life.


For more information, you can read: “EMDR: The Breakthrough Therapy for Overcoming Anxiety, Stress and Trauma”, by Francine Shapiro.





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