EMDR, Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing was initially developed to help individuals to deal with the effects of post-traumatic stress. The word “desensitization” refers to the process of learning to become comfortable with those memories that were scary at the time they happened but no longer pose a threat to you either because they are over or they are harmless. The word “reprocessing” is a psychological term that refers to the process of trying to understand & to make sense of a painful memory so that it becomes useful to you in the future. The technique, developed by Francine Shapiro, was originally given its name because it was believed that the eye movements that were a part of the technique resulted in the desensitization of painful memories. By the 1990’s it had become apparent that other forms of stimulation are equally as effective as the eye movements; however by that time the technique was 14 years old so the developers decided to keep the name.
I have successfully treated clients with EMDR who have experienced sexual abuse, PTSD, test anxiety, chronic pain, specific phobias, and have also used EMDR to strengthen feelings of self-confidence in both children and adults. EMDR is generally a much quicker technique than traditional counseling techniques. EMDR is one of the most empirically validated treatments available to therapists to assist clients in reaching their goals. Although we do not know exactly how it works the developers have theorized that it may use the same natural processes that the brain uses to clear up small traumas and make them less frightening by dreaming.