Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) was developed by Francine Shapiro in the 1980’s as a way to help people heal from trauma.  While it was originally developed to deal with PTSD resulting from combat, abuse, and single incident traumas (like a car crash, shooting, or natural disaster) this therapeutic tool is now being applied to a wide range of issues from addictions to performance enhancement.  In addition to using EMDR to resolve troubling memories, we use it to strengthen resources and coping skills.

EMDR helps clients to reprocess distress, reintegrate information, and make more adaptive connections. Often when something traumatic happens, it seems to get locked in the nervous system with the original picture, sounds, thoughts, feelings, and so on. Since the experience is locked there, it continues to be triggered whenever a reminder comes up.  It can be the basis for a lot of negative emotions, such as fear and helplessness, that we can't seem to control. 

Additionally, it isn’t simply the traumatic event that causes distress and impairs functioning, it is what the client decides the event means about them. EMDR combines bilateral brain stimulation, through eye movements, tactile taps, or auditory tones, and dual attention to reprocess client’s negative beliefs about themselves and distressing events. 

Before beginning reprocessing work the therapist will work with the client to develop resources that can be used as a support during sessions and outside of therapy. These resources are specific to each individual client and is a way for them to build a custom “tool belt.” These tools increase a client’s emotional regulation, distress tolerance, and ability to self soothe.

Learn more at www.emdr.org