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A therapist explains how Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing Therapy works

Posted at 3:08 PM, Mar 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-15 17:22:05-04

Therapist Anastasia Pollock explained how a new type of therapy is helping patients find relief faster. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy is a comprehensive psychotherapy that was developed by Francine Shapiro more than 25 years ago. Dr. Shapiro discovered that eye movements have a desensitizing effect on the nervous system. This therapeutic approach was initially developed to desensitize trauma but through the years, it has been found to be tremendously effective in treating many types of challenges including anxiety, phobias, depression, negative beliefs about oneself, anger problems, relationship problems, just to name a few.
This modality of psychotherapy has been thoroughly researched, with more than 30 positive controlled outcome studies. Researchers are finding that EMDR Therapy actually changes the brain, moving it towards health. EMDR Therapy tends to work much faster than traditional talk therapy and research is finding its positive effects are long lasting.
How it Works
EMDR Therapy is based in the Adaptive Information Processing Model, which suggests that humans have a built-in information processing system in the brain. When something disturbing happens, the brain is not able to normally process the information as it does with every day, non-disturbing events. By bringing attention to specific information and memories that are maladaptively stored in the brain and using bilateral stimulation, the brain is then able to tap into its natural ability to process information and it is then able to properly process the disturbing information that is causing a person`s symptoms and move the information to the correct place in the brain. The person then experiences a reduction in disturbance and relief from their symptoms.
What you can expect
EMDR Therapy is 8 phases. Three of the 8 phases utilize bilateral stimulation to help the brain to reprocess information. The other phases consist of taking a history, preparation prior to reprocessing disturbing information, closure, and reassessment.
In the beginning of EMDR Therapy, an EMDR therapist will get a psychosocial history and will then start teaching skills for managing emotion and disturbance. The goal with EMDR Therapy is to reprocess maladaptively stored information without being re-traumatized. It`s all about reprocessing information from today`s perspective instead of having to relive bad experiences.
Once a person is properly prepared, an EMDR therapist will help the client to access the fragments of memory in the brain and will then facilitate the reprocessing by implementing bilateral eye movements, tactile, or auditory stimulation. There will be breaks between sets of bilateral stimulation where a client will report what he or she is noticing and then the reprocessing will continue until the person no longer experiences disturbance and begins having more adaptive reactions to the old memory. This may take several sessions but generally, information moves much faster than in traditional talk therapy, giving a person relief in a shorter period of time.

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