Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
What Is EMDR?
Psychologist Francine Sharpiro, invented the breakthrough therapy known as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) in the late 1980s. An innovative approach to psychotherapy used for treating trauma victims, EMDR has the ability to heal the symptoms and emotional distress triggered from traumatic memories through processing past events, targeting the internal and external factors causing current distress, and incorporating skills needed to result in adaptive functioning.
How Can EMDR Help in Treating Someone Suffering from PTSD?
EMDR offers relief of symptoms and emotional distress to those experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD.) Randomized studies of people provided EMDR therapy show it to be an evidence-based treatment for reformulating memories of negative events to reduce physiological distress. PTSD refers to a condition that arises after an individual has experienced a disturbing event that is so emotionally or physically painful that it leaves lasting effects. Typically, a cluster of symptoms is involved with PTSD. These can include:
- Recurring nightmares
- Angry outbursts
- Flashbacks, particularly in response to audio or visual stimuli
- Problems sleeping
- Unexplained fear
- Inability to relax
- Inability to focus
- Memory loss
PTSD is most commonly associated with returning war veterans, but can affect anyone who has experienced a traumatic life experience. It’s important to understand that EMDR is most successful in treating individuals who are experiencing severe symptoms.
EMDR can be used to help identify triggers, such as sounds, people and other types of stimuli, that evoke a traumatic memory and cause the sufferer to experience symptoms or react inappropriately in a given situation. In essence, individuals suffering from PTSD react in a way that is similar to their reaction when they initially experienced the trauma, which is often extreme or uncalled for in the current situation.
Using EMDR to treat PTSD lies in its ability to look deeply into the individual’s unconscious to identify vivid visual images, negative beliefs and associations, as well as emotions and body sensations related to the harmful memory. When EMDR is used to help identify these triggers, individual can regain some control over their life by developing specific skills necessary for coping. The end goal is to minimize the duration and number of inappropriate reactions experienced by the person who is suffering from PTSD, and establish more positive or healthier thoughts and emotions.
David Karnes in Austin, Texas, has seen first-hand the power of EMDR for treating post traumatic stress disorder. If you or someone you know is suffering from PSTD, give David Karnes a call to learn more about how EMDR can help.