Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

What is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)?

The mind can often heal itself naturally, in the same way the body does. Much of this natural coping occurs during sleep, particularly during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Francine Shapiro developed Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) in 1987, using this natural process to treat Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Since then, EMDR has been used to effectively treat a wide range of mental health problems including trauma.

EMDR seems to stimulate upsetting information and allow the brain to reprocess the experience in a natural way. It is your brain doing the healing and you are the one in control.

1What happens when you’re traumatized?
When a disturbing event occurs and overwhelms your ability to cope it can get locked in the brain with the original images, sounds, thoughts, feelings, and body sensations. When trauma is unprocessed, it can cause distress in many areas of your life.
2What is an EMDR session like?
EMDR utilizes the natural healing ability of your body. After an assessment, you will be asked specific questions about your experience or memory. Eye movements, similar to those during REM sleep, will be recreated by asking you to watch the counselor’s finger moving back and forth across your visual field. The eye movements will last for a short while and then stop. You will then be invited to report back on what you noticed during the set of eye movements. During the session, you may note changes in thoughts, images and feelings. With repeated sets of eye movements, the memory tends to change in such a way that it loses its painful intensity and becomes a neutral memory of an event in the past. During EMDR treatment, you will remain in control, fully alert and wide-awake. This is not a form of hypnosis and you can stop the process at any time. Most people experience EMDR as being a natural and very empowering therapy.
3What can EMDR be used for?
Although EMDR has been shown to successfully treat a wide range of issues, at Capstone Center we use EMDR specifically to address loss, grief, bereavement and trauma.
4Is EMDR right for me?
EMDR can accelerate therapy by resolving the impact of past traumas and allowing you to live more fully in the present. It is not, however, appropriate for everyone. The process is rapid and individuals must be ready to fully experience and tolerate some level of emotional discomfort. Your counselor will discuss the process with you in more detail to see if it is right for you at this time.
5Will EMDR take place as part of counseling or by itself?
EMDR can be a natural extension of bereavement counseling and can occur as part of a session, or sometimes in a separate session(s). EMDR sessions usually last 60 to 90 minutes.
6What evidence is there that EMDR is a successful treatment?
EMDR is well-researched and innovative clinical treatment which has successfully helped over a million individuals. It is considered an “A” treatment for trauma and recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for children, adolescents and adults.

Adapted from EMDR Institute Basic Training Manual Adapted and from www.thetraumacentre.com


We are here for you. Our counselors are ready to listen. Connect with Capstone to learn about our counseling services. By phone: (850) 219-8985 or email pam@connectwithcapstone.com.