There are a number of factors to consider when evaluating the appropriateness of EMDR therapy for a client’s particular situation and history. During the initial consultation with a trained EMDR therapist, all the relevant factors will be discussed in full to help you both come to a decision to move forward with EMDR.
One or more sessions are required for the therapist to understand the nature of the problem and to decide whether EMDR is an appropriate treatment. The therapist will also discuss EMDR more fully and provide an opportunity to answer questions about the method. Once therapist and client have agreed that EMDR is appropriate for a specific problem, the actual EMDR therapy may begin.
A typical EMDR session lasts from 60 to 90 minutes. The type of problem, life circumstances, and the amount of previous trauma will determine how many treatment sessions are necessary. EMDR may be used within a standard "talking" therapy, as an adjunctive therapy with a separate therapist, or as a treatment all by itself.
Although a fairly new therapeutic technique, EMDR is meeting with much success all across the world. EMDR is a natural process. The client and the therapist become partners on a journey to help move traumatic and blocked energy, so the client can return to his/her natural grounded state of being. The goal of this work is to help the client heal, so he/she can return to one’s life in peace.
Approximately 20 controlled studies have investigated the effects of EMDR. These studies have consistently found that EMDR effectively decreases/eliminates the symptoms of post-traumatic stress for the majority of clients. Clients often report improvement in other associated symptoms such as anxiety. The current treatment guidelines of the American Psychiatric Association and the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies designate EMDR as an effective treatment for post-traumatic stress. EMDR was also found effective by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense, the United Kingdom Department of Health, the Israeli National Council for Mental Health, and many other international health and governmental agencies. Research has also shown that treatment with EMDR can be efficient and rapid.
No one knows how any form of psychotherapy works neurobiologically on the brain. However, we do know that when a person is very upset, their brain cannot process information as it does ordinarily. One moment becomes "frozen in time," and remembering a trauma may feel as bad as going through it the first time because the images, sounds, smells, and feelings haven’t changed. Such memories have a lasting negative effect that interferes with the way a person sees the world and the way they relate to other people.
EMDR seems to have a direct effect on the way that the brain processes information. Normal information processing is resumed, so following a successful EMDR session, a person no longer re-lives the images, sounds, and feelings when the event is brought to mind. You still remember what happened, but it is less upsetting. Many types of therapy have similar goals. However, EMDR appears to be similar to what occurs naturally during dreaming or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Therefore, EMDR can be thought of as a physiologically based therapy that helps a person see disturbing material in a new and less distressing way
EMDR involves attention to three time periods: the past, present, and future. Focus is given to past disturbing memories and related events. Also, it is given to current situations that cause distress, and to developing the skills and attitudes needed for positive future actions. With EMDR therapy, these items are addressed using an eight-phase treatment approach. EMDR therapy combines different elements to maximize treatment effects. A full description of the theory, sequence of treatment, and research on protocols and active mechanisms can be found in the book by Dr. Shapiro: F. Shapiro (2001) Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing: Basic principles, protocols and procedures (2nd edition) New York: Guilford Press