Developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro in the 1980’s, Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a well-respected and effective psychological science validated treatment. Shapiro’s core discovery in which she saw parallels to fully functional unrestricted REM sleep processing centered on the mind’s capacity, via eye movement, to process unresolved troubling images and feelings.
Our experiences are remembered in networks of interconnected neural patterns that can later create maladaptive ways of thinking and behaving. We may suffer from the arising symptoms of past unconscious events and experiences. This may be reflected in emotional blocks, phobias, even poor relationship choices. These represent symptoms and not underlying causation. Traumatic events and connected negative thoughts & feelings may become blocked, suppressed from consciousness, resulting in unprocessed memories becoming trapped in the nervous system.
A considerable amount of case study research has been undertaken demonstrating the benefits of EMDR in treating psychological trauma for a wide-ranging number of conditions including war related experiences, natural disasters, bullying, childhood sexual abuse, physical abuse or neglect, surgical trauma, road traffic and workplace accidents. EMDR has been found to be effective with adults and children including working with blind, deaf and autistic client populations. EMDR has the potential in individual cases to help heal and change minds and bodily symptoms and can be effective for treatment of chronic pain and depression.
To date there has been fourteen controlled studies that support the idea that EMDR works well in the treatment of trauma. This makes EMDR the most thoroughly researched method every used for trauma work. In the most recent five studies, 84 – 90% of clients that had to cope with rape, combat, loss of a loved one, accidents or natural disasters, showed improvements in symptoms in post traumatic stress disorder in less than six sessions.
From its origins as a treatment for PTSD and trauma treatment it has evolved as an effective therapy in other life experiences involving negative learning outcomes and can be applied to help establish self-esteem, confidence and change core beliefs.