EMDR Therapy

By Ofer Zur, Ph.D.

EMDR, which was developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro, is internationally regarded as an empirically supported treatment for traumatic memories. It is an integrative, client-centered psychotherapy approach that is guided by the Adaptive Information Processing model. EMDR emphasizes the brain’s information processing system and memories of disturbing experiences as the bases of those pathologies not caused by organic deficit or injury.

EMDR Recap:

  • EMDR has been designated as an effective treatment of trauma in numerous international treatment guidelines, including those of the American Psychiatric Association, US Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense, International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies and the World Health Organization.
  • Randomized controlled research indicates that most clients who have experienced a single traumatic event can be successfully treated with EMDR in three 90-minute reprocessing sessions.
  • Studies suggest that the eye movement used in EMDR produces an increase in parasympathetic activity and a decrease in psychophysiological arousal.
  • Theory and research reports indicate that EMDR effects may be related to those that occur in REM sleep.
  • Unlike exposure therapies, with EMDR it is not necessary to force the client to speak in detail about the memory nor to do hours of daily homework.
  • EMDR treatment indicates that dysfunctional emotions, physical sensations, and perspectives are manifestations of the stored memories that can be eliminated with adequate processing.
  • EMDR can be used to treat a wide range of clinical complaints that are caused or exacerbated by experiential contributors.
  • EMDR treatment indicates that what may seem to be organic life-long depression may actually be caused by physiologically stored memories from childhood that have remained unprocessed.
  • During the EMDR processing sessions, clients understand the unconscious associations they’ve been making and often experience a rapid and simultaneous transmutation from dysfunctional perception, affect, and physical arousal to healthy perceptual, emotional and physical states.
  • EMDR can be used for family therapy, as well as individual therapy, in that it addresses the earlier dysfunctionally stored memories that are feeding the destructive interactions and behaviors.
  • EMDR can be used to address deficits in maternal bonding, as well as childhood attachment issues.
  • EMDR has also been found to be successful in treating somatoform disorders such as chronic pain, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, and in decreasing or completely eliminating phantom limb pain.
  • EMDR uses an 8-phase approach to address the past experiences that have set the groundwork for dysfunction, present situations that trigger disturbance, and future templates to address skill and developmental deficits.

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