in Arlington Heights, IL
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) – Arlington Heights, Illinois
What is EMDR?
EMDR is a therapeutic approach that facilitates the body’s natural ability to process and heal traumatic memories. Francine Shapiro pioneered this therapeutic approach originally to treat Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but it is also used to effectively reduce symptoms for a range of mental health problems. EMDR is based on the Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) model which posits that when we experience trauma, our brains store the memories incorrectly. These memory networks affect how we experience the world in the present and form the basis of perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs about the traumatic event. When traumatic memories are stored incorrectly, present-day triggers can make us feel as though the traumatic event is happening in the here-and-now. EMDR uses bilateral stimulation (BLS) to replicate the processing that occurs in the brain during Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. In this way, clients are able to reprocess the traumatic memories and eliminate dysfunctional responses in the present.
What Happens in an EMDR Session?
It’s important to note that EMDR is a therapeutic approach not a technique. It is an 8 phase, 3 prong approach that incorporates aspects of other theoretical orientations including Cognitive Behavioral, Psychodynamic, Experiential, and Systems theories, among others. During the first 2 phases, the clinician and client will meet several times to establish and strengthen the therapeutic alliance, and to gather information related to the symptoms the client is experiencing. In the third phase, the clinician and client will talk about the mechanics of BLS, which can include following the clinician’s fingers, tapping, or tones. The fourth stage begins desensitization and ends with the seventh phase, which is closure. The eighth is done and the process can be repeated as needed.
Throughout all the stages, the client is at complete control, and the clinician will check in with the client to evaluate the client’s response to what is happening. Clients may experience changes in thoughts, feelings, and images during the session and the traumatic memory tends to change in such a way that it becomes less disturbing and ultimately a neutral memory of a past event. Associated memories may also heal at the same time, leading to rapid and dramatic improvement in symptoms.
What Does the Research Say?
EMDR is a well-researched, evidence-based therapeutic approach. Research includes its effectiveness in treating combat veterans with PTSD and developmental trauma,its efficacy for cancer patients when compared to CBT, and more recently, EEG imaging showing physical changes in the brain that correspond to significant relief from negative emotions. Links to more research are below.
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