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    Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

    EMDR is a revolutionary new therapy that has helped millions let go of painful experiences, memories, or beliefs. By utilizing the brain’s natural healing processes, EMDR therapy quickly heals many emotional problems and conditions which have been difficult and time consuming to treat in the past
    EMDR is an acronym for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, a therapy discovered and patented by Francine Shapiro in 1989. While walking through the park, Dr. Shapiro noted a healing effect from moving her eyes back and forth while simultaneously recalling a disturbing event. Since that time, over 50,000 therapists have trained in this highly effective treatment and it has become the chosen treatment for persons suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.
    In spite of medical advances, some mechanisms of the brain remain a mystery. However, the amazing outcomes of EMDR treatment can be theoretically explained. Bilateral stimulation (created by eye movements or alternating tapping on the hands) activates the opposite sides of the brain allowing the brain to release and redefine emotional experiences that are “trapped” within the brain.
    This type of stimulation resembles REM (rapid eye movement) sleep as our eyes move from one side to the other. It is during sleep that the brain naturally sorts out our experiences from the day, discarding useless information and transferring memories appropriately. However, sometimes extremely negative experiences can get “trapped” or “frozen” in the brain and they are unable to resolve naturally which may result in nightmares, depression, anger, anxiety, or emotional disturbance.
    Along with this “trapped” negative experience is the negative emotion, sensory information, and childlike or initial interpretation of the experience. Even though these negative emotions, memories or beliefs are “locked away,” they can still affect us greatly and are often triggered by various sensory input (sight, smell, touch, taste, or hearing). We may see something, pick up a certain scent, or be spoken to a particular way and that memory or feeling is triggered, often without any understanding of why. When a negative memory is triggered, the neurological response is protection and the result is a state of hyper-arousal commonly referred to as flight or fight. Stress hormones are released into the body and we find ourselves saying things without thinking or doing things that seem out of character.
Most importantly, the initial and untrue negative beliefs about oneself are reinforced.
    EMDR assists to unlock these painful memories or beliefs as the eye movement or tapping stimulates the two hemispheres of the brain to communicate with each other. The bilateral stimulation simulates REM sleep, which is when the brain naturally attaches meaning to experience. While awake in EMDR treatment, the brain is assisted in resolving feelings, beliefs or experience not yet resolved though the brain’s natural process. By focusing on the identified targets when paired with the bilateral stimulation, the negative feelings, beliefs or experience become desensitized, meaning they simple become less bothersome. The feelings, beliefs and/or experience is then reprocessed and new meaning is attached to the experience or triggers. As the brain arrives at new conclusions, the original trauma no longer contains the negative emotional charge originally associated with it. The triggers are now neutral, the interpretation of experience is now intentional and the beliefs about oneself now present hope instead of powerlessness.
    Sometimes only one session of EMDR can provide immediate relief from emotional distress. However, the length of treatment depends upon multiple factors.
    EMDR has been utilized primarily in the treatment of trauma experiences such as physical or sexual abuse, car accidents, victims of crime, natural disasters, and severe loss or grief, or war veterans. Positive results have also been observed with panic and anxiety disorders, sexual dysfunction, chemical dependency, peak performance, depression, addictions sexual abuse panic attacks, dissociative disorders, grief and chronic pain. Extensive research has shown EMDR as the most effective and rapid method for healing PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). In addition, EMDR can result in increased self-esteem, decreased feelings of depression, and a renewed spirituality. By interacting with one’s interpretation of previous experience in life, EMDR has the ability to alter personality and personality disorders. EMDR has been utilized all over the world and proven effective with adults, children, and adolescents.
    EMDR has become one of the most researched and validated treatments for PTSD and many other disorders since Dr Francine Shapiro’s first study in 1989. EMDR has been endorsed by the American Psychiatric Association (2004), the US Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the International Society for Traumatic Stress. Dr Daniel Amen, author of NY Times Best Seller, Change Your Brain, Change Your Life (1998) recommends EMDR in his clinics and says “EMDR is a brain treatment that actually changes the Brain function.”
    Additional information about EMDR can be found at: www.emdr.com or www.emdria.org