What is EMDR?

What and Who is EMDR for?

EMDR, also known as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy was first developed in 1987 by Francine Shapiro. It is a well-supported, extensively researched, and efficient psychotherapy approach used to treat a variety of distressing life events and issues. This clinical treatment approach has been endorsed by many international organizations as an effective treatment modality including the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, and the World Health Organization (WHO). EMDR therapy can benefit clients exposed to trauma, violence and who experience stress-related difficulties, mood issues such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and panic attacks, eating disorders, as well as grief and loss, chronic medical conditions, and pain. 

How EMDR Works

EMDR is a complex, systematic and integrative psychotherapeutic approach that draws upon multiple psychological orientations including cognitive-behavioral, motivational interviewing, somatic and psychodynamic therapies. 

EMDR is an eight-phase model that takes the client through a process that is thoughtfully and intentionally developed for clients to work through the alleviation of distress associated with their memories. Some of the eight phases include history taking, client preparation, assessment and desensitization. 

At the crux of EMDR treatment is the Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) model that allows information to be adaptively processed to a point at which the associations made to a distressing incident are integrated into positive cognitions and emotions. With the use of directed eye movements, the information processing system is activated. Eventually, clients may find resolution in that helpful learnings are made available for use in the future.

What Clients Need to Know about EMDR

It is important to consult with an EMDR-trained therapist as this is a mental health intervention. You could ask your therapist questions about whether EMDR would be an effective approach for you and address any questions or concerns you may have about it. It is also important that you feel comfortable collaborating with your therapist.

Written by:
Isabelle Ong

Clinical Mental Health Counsellor for Individuals & Groups, Children, Adolescents and Couples
Ph.D., LCMHCA, NCC (USA)
SACAC Counselling

References:

EMDR Institute, Inc. (2020). Retrieved from: https://www.emdr.com/

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy. (2017). American
Psychological Association. Retrieved from:
https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/treatments/eye-movement-reprocessing

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