Eye Movement Desensitisation & Reprocessing (EMDR)
Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) is a fairly new, nontraditional type of therapy. It's growing in popularity, particularly for treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD often occurs after experiences such as military combat, physical assault, rape, or car accidents.
At first glance, EMDR appears to approach psychological issues in an unusual way. It does not rely on talk therapy or medications. Instead, EMDR uses a patient's own rapid, rhythmic eye movements. These eye movements dampen the power of emotionally charged memories of past traumatic events.
What Can You Expect From EMDR?
Your therapist will move his or her fingers back and forth in front of your face and ask you to follow these hand motions with your eyes. At the same time, the EMDR therapist will have you recall a disturbing event. This will include the emotions and body sensations that go along with it. Gradually, the therapist will guide you to shift your thoughts to more pleasant ones. Some therapists use alternatives to finger movements, such as hand or toe tapping or musical tones.
Although most research into EMDR has examined its use in people with PTSD, EMDR can also be used to treat many other psychological problems including:
How Effective Is EMDR?
More than 20,000 practitioners have been trained to use EMDR since psychologist Francine Shapiro developed the technique in 1989. While walking through the woods one day, Shapiro happened to notice that her own negative emotions lessened as her eyes darted from side to side. Then, she found the same positive effect in patients. EMDR appears to be a safe therapy, with no negative side effects.