Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR) is a technique that was developed more than 20 years ago by Francine Shapiro, PhD. Originally, EMDR was used to treat trauma in war veterans. Over time, this technique has been found to be effective for a variety of problems including the following experiences:
- Natural Disasters
- Childhood and/or Adult Trauma
- Anxiety/Phobias and Addictions
This technique has proven to be so effective that many insurance companies encourage its use in therapy, especially when there’s been a trauma. Additionally, you’ll find that many therapists will use this when responding to natural disasters.
When you’ve experienced a traumatic experience where your life or the lives of others are threatened, you have the potential to develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This is dependent on a number of factors including prior trauma, current life situation, and access to a good social support network. Regardless of whether you’re diagnosed with PTSD, the use of EMDR can still help to access the thoughts and emotions related to a traumatic situation and replace them with a less intense way of remembering and re-experiencing the trauma.
An example might be one of the many individuals who’ve lived through the recent tornado in Oklahoma or an all-to-common school shooting. The intensity of emotions following these events are sometimes quite overwhelming, and rightfully so. The thought that you were in mortal danger or the experience of seeing someone else in peril is enough to create shock, disbelief, horror, and a variety of other emotions. What can happen is that these thoughts and emotions get ‘stuck’ in the emotion center of your brain and can be triggered by future events that resemble the trauma in some way.
EMDR is the process that helps to decrease the intensity of these emotions and find a new way to view the experience. Once completed, the memory of the situation is left intact, but you’ll be able to manage the intensity of the experience and see it as an event that no longer controls your life. You’ll begin to take on a new perspective that allows you to make some sense of this senseless act.