E.M.D.R. stands for 'Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing'.
Using the left-right movement of the eyes, anxiety and fears can be reduced – they can be desensitized.
In addition to that, the left-right stimulation of the brain enables a link-up of the previously isolated and stored part of the memory. The dissociated emotions, body reactions and sense impressions again become part of the normal memory. This reprocessing has the effect that the traumatic experience in fact still exists in the memory, but it is not constantly present, nor does it carry a charge.
Many clients know after a few EMDR sessions that something severe happened in the past but it is no longer important and life can now move on.
For the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) EMDR is internationally recognized as a scientifically proven method.
As a general rule, one specific, particularly burdening phase of the trauma experience will be selected and used as a starting point. It will be ascertained which body sensations and which emotions are produced when the client puts himself in the position of the trauma experience and which negative beliefs are formed because of this situation.
In the beginning, the founder of this method, Francine Shapiro, had used the eye movements as a standard bilateral stimulation. Since then we have learnt that other forms of bilateral stimulations e.g. tapping on the knees and acoustic or other impulses are just as effective. During the course of the session the client reports what has changed and what he perceives. This kind of processing can go on for up to an hour. Normally, a typical wavelike sequence occurs alternating between negative and positive perceptions and memories.
The therapist steers the session and ensures that the client is not overwhelmed and the work happens in the context of safety, protection and support.
• Partnership problems – Mostly the causes lie in the childhood and in the relationship with the parents or the caregivers.
• Depressive disposition – In a life-threatening situation we react with either fight or flight and, when neither assault nor escape is possible (and for children this is often the case), with freeze. In this condition our feelings go away and it is as if our soul has separated from our body.
• Fears and phobias – The origin of the fear lies in the past and during the reprocessing the remembrance of this situation can come up.
• Sleep disorders – With severe shock the whole nervous system can land in a state of red alert and then years later this does not permit a peaceful sleep.
• Physical symptoms without organic causes – When one cannot speak, the body speaks. Unresolved conflicts are not just in the brain but also stored in the body.
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Attachment focused EMDR
Healing Relational Trauma
Norton & Company, ISBN-10: 03937074