By Carrie Collins

You may have heard recent buzz around EMDR therapy for the treatment of trauma. This exciting approach has gained significant traction in recent years because it is proven to quickly produce results. But, what is EMDR therapy and how does it work?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma.

Although there are 8 phases to EMDR therapy, a key differentiator from traditional talk therapy is that the person being treated with EMDR is asked to recall distressing images while the therapist directs the person in one type of bilateral sensory input, such as side-to-side eye movements or hand tapping.

When a person experiences a traumatic event, 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 interfere with the way a person sees the world and the way they relate to other people.

The goal of EMDR therapy is to completely process experiences that are causing problems. EMDR produces a learning state that allows problematic experiences to be digested and stored appropriately in the brain. What is useful to the person from an experience will be learned and stored with appropriate emotions in their brain. The inappropriate emotions, beliefs, and body sensations will be discarded.

Scientific research has established EMDR as effective for post traumatic stress. However, clinicians have also reported success using EMDR in treatment of the panic attacks, dissociative disorders, phobias, addiction, sexual abuse, body dysmorphic disorders, and personality disorders.

The amount of time the complete treatment will take depends upon the history of the client. Complete treatment of involves a three pronged protocol with 8 phases that are needed to alleviate the symptoms and address the complete clinical picture.

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