EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing, was created by a psychologist named Francine Shapiro in the 1980s. Although she discovered the process by accident, she has developed the procedure into a well-known treatment for trauma. Over the years, EMDR has also been used for other anxiety problems, including phobias, as well as pain, anger and even performance enhancement (sometimes called peak performance). EMDR can be used with children as well as adults, although it often looks different when used with children.
EMDR tends to work best when given a session length of between 90 minutes and 2 hours. Within each session, the client is asked to identify a problem and form a mental picture best representing that problem. While holding that mental picture, the client also states a negative belief that goes along with the problem, identifying body sensations and where they are located in the body, and emotions that come up in conjunction with the problem. A positive belief that would be the preferred belief over the negative one is stated and the validity of that positive belief is checked at various points in the session. During the session, the provider uses one of many possible forms of bilateral stimulation (of the two hemispheres of the brain) to work through the problem area until the distress reaches an acceptably low level. Some forms of stimulating the brain bilaterally include eye tracking of hand movements, tapping knees, using a light bar to move eyes back and forth, listening to sounds alternately with each ear or holding a buzzer in each hand. Before the clinical sessions begin, clients are given ways of indicating too much distress so the session can be stopped. They are also given methods for distancing from the difficult material as well as skills for using resources and strengths to help them move beyond the problem area.
I have been trained through both levels of EMDR training through the EMDR Institute, as well as participating in a year long (+) consultation group for advancing my training and understanding. I have worked with many clients experiencing a wide variety of traumatic events, using EMDR with great success. I do not offer EMDR in 60 minute sessions as I have found much better success with a minimum of 90 minute sessions. I am willing to work out payment/fee options for the additional time if your insurance will not cover longer sessions to accommodate the more intensive treatment methods.
You can learn much more about EMDR through the two most recognized training programs for EMDR.
In addition, for clients wishing to use EMDR, I highly recommend reading Francine Shapiro’s book: “EMDR: The Breakthrough ‘Eye Movement’ Therapy for Overcoming Anxiety, Stress & Trauma”
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