Understanding EMDR Therapy

EMDR therapy works with the understanding that the mind, like the body, has the capacity heal. Standing for “Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing,” EMDR is a proven and effective treatment for treating trauma in individuals of all ages.[1] EMDR addresses all trauma equally, identifying it as any experience that has an ongoing negative impact.

Just as some injuries are too great for the body to recover from without help, some emotional traumas are also too strong. The processing of traumatic experiences can become trapped in a cyclical pattern—a constant reliving of negative emotions. This affliction can sometimes be so great that it begins to dominate and even damage daily life. EMDR therapy is useful to break this pattern in the brain, helping us to learn from negative experiences, and process them in a healthy way.

During an EMDR session, the client recalls painful or disturbing events while engaging in specialized eye movements, while a therapist facilitates learning, coping, and reprocessing the memories. Though this may sound simplistic, numerous studies confirm that EMDR is an effective treatment for all ages and backgrounds, especially when other forms of therapy have proven inadequate.[2]

EMDR therapy is applied with a three-pronged approach, addressing:

  1. THE PAST: to process memories and identify old experiences that are still negatively affecting an individual.
  2.  THE PRESENT: to understand current experiences, behaviors and reactions that define day to day life.
  3. THE FUTURE: to guide an individual toward positive potential actions and interactions.

If you are interested in learning more about EMDR therapy or think that you or your family could benefit from any of the many programs at Southwest Family Guidance Center, please call (505) 830 1871 and request to speak to a supervisor.

[1] “Research has shown that about five hours of EMDR treatment eliminates PTSD in 84 to 100 percent of civilians with a single trauma experience, including rape, accident, or disaster. When civilians experience multiple traumas, more treatment is needed. Research indicates that about eight to twelve hours of treatment can result in a 77 to 80 percent elimination of multiple-trauma PTSD in civilians.” —Shapiro and Forrest, 2016.

[2] For more discussion of EMDR therapies, as well as citations for studies attesting to its effectiveness in different populations, please see Shapiro and Forrest, 2016, especially pp. 5-7.