Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a comprehensive approach to psychotherapy, originally developed by Francine Shapiro, a Senior Research Fellow at the Mental Research Institute in Palo Alto, California in 1987. EMDR psychotherapy is a research-based, clinically proven approach to accelerate the treatment of a wide range of problems and self-esteem issues related both to disturbing past traumatic events and present life conditions.
This interactive approach has been well researched with people who have experienced a broad range of disturbing life experiences, including accidents, loss of a job, health or a loved one, rape, sexual molestation, exposure to combat and natural disasters. EMDR offers a reprocessing of disturbing life experiences resulting in a significant reduction or elimination of symptoms such as emotional distress, intrusive thoughts, flashbacks and nightmares. EMDR is also used to treat relationship problems and self-esteem issues as well as anxiety, depression, complicated grief reactions and phobias. It can alleviate performance anxiety at work, on the playing field and in the performing arts.
It is important to remember that EMDR therapy is not a panacea - though it has helped millions of people around the world, not every symptom and not every person is amenable to treatment with EMDR therapy. An appropriately trained mental health professional will gather information over one or more sessions to determine if a person is a good candidate for EMDR therapy.
How long will treatment take?
Studies show that symptoms related to a single traumatic incident can often be resolved in a total of three to six sessions. This includes sessions for history taking, treatment planning, preparation, reprocessing sessions and reevaluation. Treatment for survivors of multiple traumas will take longer. Survivors of prolonged trauma such as combat trauma and persistent childhood neglect and abuse have also been shown to benefit from EMDR therapy, but to achieve comprehensive improvements, more lengthy treatment is needed.
EMDR therapy is offered only within the safety of an established therapeutic relationship and after gathering enough information to develop a specific treatment plan. An EMDR psychotherapist can often give you an estimate of the anticipated length of treatment after the first two or three visits.