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“EMDR provides a way for people to free themselves from destructive memories and it seems to work, even in cases where years of conventional therapy have failed.” – Hugh Downs, 20/20, ABC News
For over three decades, EMDR has been providing relief to individuals struggling with a wide range of symptoms from general depression and anxiety to complex post-traumatic stress disorder. With extensive research and endorsement by the World Health Organization, EMDR is one of the most effective treatments available. A Kaiser study found that 100% of patients treated for single-incident trauma and 77% of those who experienced multiple-incident trauma no longer had a PTSD diagnosis after only six 50-minute EMDR sessions.
But what exactly is EMDR?
EMDR is the acronym for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy. It is a psychotherapy treatment that aids the brain in processing emotionally upsetting or traumatic memories and helps to alleviate the symptoms that arise from those traumas.
Francine Shapiro, the creator of EMDR, hypothesized that each of us has an information processing system, and every memory that we have is stored in memory networks throughout the brain. These memory networks contain thoughts, images, emotions and sensations.
When distressing life events occur, the brain can become overwhelmed, and unable to fully process those images, sensations, sounds, emotions and thoughts. As a result, the information becomes trapped and can either become cut off or recirculate through the brain without filtering through and processing normally. These trapped memories are called “unprocessed memories” and can result in symptomatic reactions, shape the development of personality and cause many mental health disorders.
With EMDR, patients can successfully alleviate the symptoms associated with these unprocessed memories. Through an eight-phased approach, the memories are processed and stored differently, and appropriately, in the brain. It’s like re-filing the filing cabinet in your head.