Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a fairly new, nontraditional type of psychotherapy. It is growing in popularity, particularly for treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which often occurs after experiences such as military combat, physical assault, rape, or car accidents.
At first glance, EMDR appears to approach psychological issues in an unusual way. It does not rely on talk therapy or medications Instead, EMDR uses a patient’s own rapid, rhythmic eye movements. These eye movements dampen the power of emotionally charged memories of past traumatic events.
What to Expect
During an EMDR treatment session, your therapist will move his or her fingers back and forth in front of your face and ask you to follow these hand motions with your eyes. At the same time, the EMDR therapist will have you recall a disturbing event. This will include the emotions and body sensations that go along with it. Gradually, the therapist will guide you to shift your thoughts to more pleasant ones. Some therapists use alternatives to finger movements, such as hand or toe tapping or musical tones.
People who use the technique argue that EMDR can weaken the effect of negative emotions. Before and after each EMDR treatment, your therapist will ask you to rate your level of distress. The hope is that your disturbing memories will become less disabling.
Calm and Confident: Overcome Stress and Anxiety With EMDR
Mark Grant (1997).
Two guided visualizations, soothing music, and EMDR combine to help listeners relax and feel more confident about dealing with stress and anxiety-producing situations. A instruction booklet included.
EMDR: The Breakthrough Therapy for Overcoming Anxiety, Stress, and Trauma.
Francine Shapiro, & Margot Silk-Forrest (1996). (New York: Basic Books). EMDR explained and includes many case histories. For the general public as well as professionals.
EMDR: Transforming Trauma.
Laurel Parnell, (1996). (New York: W.W. Norton). Basic EMDR information for the general public as well as professionals. Dr.Parnell writes from a transpersonal perspective about her experiences with EMDR.
Small Wonders: Healing Childhood Trauma with EMDR.
Joan Lovett, M.D. (1999) (The Free Press, Simon and Schuster Publishers). Collection of stories about children, adolescents and adults who have puzzling symtoms and anxiety. It offers therapists who treat children and do inner child work, a indepth look the EMDR process and valuable clinical histories. EMDR information is explained in a easily understandable way for clients. She is a wizard at integrating EMDR into multidimensional therapeutic contexts.