The THEORY is that a traumatic incident upsets the biochemical balance of the information processing system. This biochemical imbalance prevents the information processing from proceeding to an adaptive resolution. The traumatic experience is locked in the nervous system. The eye movement seems to rebalance the traumatic overload and the information can then be reprocessed and integrated into the information system of the neocortex.
The TECHNIQUE involves the client beginning with a negative self statement about a response to a traumatic situation. The client focuses on the thoughts, images, and physiological arousal of the experience while tracking the therapist’s rapidly moving finger.
The APPROACH is three pronged: (1) the client targets a specific problem caused by trauma and a ‘stuck’ or negative trauma response, (2) identifies and focuses on the negative self thoughts, images, and sensations associated with the trauma, and (3) responds cognitively, somatically, and behaviorally in a new and positive way. The first two are necessary in order to desensitize the anxiety-response, the third allows a new pattern to be established which seems to increase the likelihood of a long-term therapeutic effect.
The POSITIVE RESULTS from controlled studies show promise in helping to reduce the frequency and intensity of intrusive traumatic recollections. Many therapist’s report that EMDR has shown to be effective with symptoms of anxiety and depression, alleviating or reducing flashbacks and nightmares, and in restoring a positive self image and functionality. These results are frequently attained in a brief span of time without having to recount the traumatic experience(s).
Possible NEGATIVES to EMDR are the client is retraumatized or made worse because (1) the client has not sufficiently bonded with the therapist or been assessed for safety and resources (2) the therapist may not have the clinical skills to support the client (3) the intensity of response evoked during the eye movement overwhelms the client (4) the client has little control over the process and is not able to regulate their response.
EYE MOVEMENT DESENSITIZATION and REPROCESSING ( EMDR)
CREATOR: FRANCINE SHAPIRO, PHD
CONTACT: EMDR INSTITUTE, INC.
P.O. BOX 51010
PACIFIC GROVE, CA. 93950-6010
Kathy Bird 1998