EMDR is an acronym for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is an innovative clinical treatment that has successfully helped over a million individuals who have survived trauma, including sexual abuse, domestic violence, combat, crime, and those suffering from a number of other complaints including depressions, addictions, phobias and a variety of self-esteem issues.
EMDR is a complex approach to psychotherapy that integrates many of the successful elements of a range of therapeutic approaches in combination with eye movements or other forms of rhythmical stimulation in ways that stimulate the brain’s information processing system. With EMDR therapy it is unnecessary to delve into decades-old psychological material, but rather, by activating the information-processing system of the brain, people can achieve their therapeutic goals at a rapid rate, with recognizable changes that don’t disappear over time.
Fourteen controlled studies support the efficacy of EMDR, making it the most thoroughly researched method ever used in the treatment of trauma. The most recent 5 studies with individuals suffering from events such as rape, loss of a loved one, accidents, natural disasters, etc. have found that 84-90% no longer had post-traumatic stress disorder after only three treatment sessions. A recent study financed by Kaiser Permanente revealed that EMDR was twice as effective in half the amount of time compared to the standard traditional care. However, clients and clinicians should note that EMDR is not a race. While many people show dramatic responses in a short amount of time, there are also those who will progress more slowly and that the slower progression is not abnormal. For instance, those with multiple traumas such as molestation and combat veterans will generally need longer treatment. The one study offering a full course of treatment to combat veterans found that after twelve sessions, 77% no longer had PTSD. Just as in any therapy, we all progress at the rate appropriate to the individual and the clinical situation.
The major significance of EMDR is that it allows the brain to heal its psychological problems at the same rate as the rest of the body is healing its physical ailments. Because EMDR allows minds and body to heal at the same rate, it is effectively making time irrelevant in therapy. Given its wide application, EMDR promises to be the therapy of the future.