EMDR was created from a Francine Shapiro’s personal self-healing observation. After research and further investigation it was made into an 8-stage protocol. Now there are more than 150 scientific studies that show the effective results of treating PTSD by healing traumatic events with EMDR. Even though first appointed as a PTSD treatment it is now used for a variety of psychological treatments. As research on EMDR continues, new methods of dual attention stimulation were created, new population has benefited and new hypothesis of why it works have been reported.
Before we even understand the words that compose the acronym EMDR, it is important to understand that there is a whole process to make it safe and effective. Using EMDR as a treatment without the appropriate preparation can be disorganizing instead of healing. The better equipped the individual is, the easier it is going to be the healing process. Preparing a client involves the learning what is a safe place, inner retreat, body scan, progressive relaxation, containment, grounding, boundaries, body-awareness-check-in and building all other resources that might be relevant to each unique case. After disclosing the need to be well prepared for EMDR and not think it is a one time session miracle, let’s get back to understanding what this acronym means:
EM- eye movement was the first method used to simulate the communication between right and left brain creating a natural environment for the digestion of a disturbing memory. Now this eye movement is no longer the only method that has been proven to be effective, now it can be also tactile or audio. In another words, instead of moving eyes from side to side, it could be done by listening to a sound on the right ear and then on the left ear, or feel a vibration stimuli on left hand and than on right hand. I have observed that bilateral movement seem to also have similar effect.
D- By using these different ways to move, feel or hear, one can desensitize from a disturbing thought or image. It is like one can digest a yucky feeling, instead of keeping it inside of the body. Some clients report feeling the yuck move from inside of the body to an extremity until it dissipates, other feel that the charge they had in a certain place in their body is suddenly gone, and they do not feel disturbed by the memory that has hunted them for so many years.
R- It is not enough to desensitize a person’s negative feelings, it is also important to put a new positive feeling in that place. strong>Reprocessing stands for the procedure to process the negative manifestations of a particular event change and the ability to install a new positive one.
EMDR helps the person find a way to bring the nervous system not only back to its parasympathetic and sympathetic healthy homeostasis, but it seems to put the event and triggers into a healthy adapted memory bank. Through EMDR, the information, image, emotion, sensation and beliefs are digested and metabolized and a new positive manifestation of that memory is installed and becomes more vivid and present. For some clients, EMDR comes very natural, for others, it is not recommended, for some it becomes relevant after years of preparation. Having that as a resource has been extremely helpful and complementary to my gestalt dance approach.