According to Wikipedia “Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is:
- a psychotherapy developed by Francine Shapiro that emphasizes disturbing memories as the cause of psychopathology. It is used to help with the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
According to Shapiro, when a traumatic or distressing experience occurs, it may overwhelm normal coping mechanisms. The memory and associated stimuli are inadequately processed and stored in an isolated memory network.
- the goal of EMDR is to reduce the long-lasting effects of distressing memories by developing more adaptive coping mechanisms. The therapy uses an eight-phase approach that includes having the patient recall distressing images while receiving one of several types of bilateral sensory input, such as side to side eye movements, tapping and others. EMDR was originally developed to treat adults with PTSD; however, it is also used to treat other conditions and children”.
EMDR is based on the same principals as AIT (see under AIT in the menu) and other trauma and energy psychology methods. The most important difference is in the procedure. Clients’ reports about the outcome of those treatments seems to be very similar. I would agree with that view, having had a personal experience with those methods.
EMDR process is easy to follow. A practitioner gives a short overview of it at the beginning of the session.
My personal and professional experience shows me that the vast number of our mental health difficulties and disorders result from unprocessed (repressed, dissociated, denied) distressing/upsetting events. For instance in my work with families I often use EMDR to, first to support parents in overcoming their own childhood wounds before they are ready to deal with their current problems presented by the children: volatile behaviours, self-harming, truanting, school anxieties etc.
So often the difficulties displayed by the children trigger painful memories and activate negative believes parents have about themselves – “I am a lousy parent”, “Look at me, I’ve never been parented properly, how am I supposed to know how to help my child with this…”, “I didn’t have a father how can I be a “good daddy” now”, “I can’t do it”, “My child’s problems are all my fault” etc.
Trying to work on the current problems without sorting out the underlying one is like putting a new wall paper on a damp wall. A good look lasts only for a moment. Soon the wall paper stars peeling off and the problem is revealed again.
In this analogy, the EMDR can be compared to a very thoroughly done redecoration project.