What’s New? EMDR!

I am very excited to be able to tell you about my most recent training. 

EMDR-What is it?

EMDR is an acronym that stands for “Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing”.  It is an evidence based, empirically proven technique for addressing all manner of emotional trauma and upset. 

While every sort of therapy engages the mind and body to help rework old troubling experiences, this technique enables the therapist and client to target adverse events at their origin, using the brain’s natural tendency toward health and stability, to eliminate the effects well down the line of association. 

How does it work?

Like many therapies, EMDR was created through the careful observation of a brilliant individual who had the courage to pursue a hunch.  Dr. Francine Shapiro knew her technique worked when she proposed it in the 1980’s but, along with many others, she has been researching and refining the it in all her years since.  The neurobiology is still being unravelled but there is one constant, bilateral stimulation of the brain. 

Some researchers speculate that the process mimics REM sleep, a state well-known to enhance emotional processing.  Some believe the brain’s elasticity is enhanced as the left and right are engaged.  Certainly all agree that stuck, isolated memories associated with Post Traumatic Stress Symptoms are shifted into more integrated tolerable memories.

What does a session look like?

The therapist takes a client back to troubling memory in a structured and safe environment.  The client is then asked to consider the memory and its associated beliefs, emotions and body sensations while the therapist creates an environment of bilateral stimulation (BLS)  and divided attention.  The BLS may occur with eye movements (following the therapists hand back and forth), sound (using a headset) or touch (therapist alternately tapping the client’s knees).  The client free associates through this process, carefully observed by the therapist.

A discrete piece of work is completed when the memory no longer causes the client distress as he or she thinks about it.   Further, any negative beliefs the client held about themselves associated with the event no longer feel true.

Who can benefit?

Almost anyone can benefit from this process.  However those I would particularly like to reach now are people with simple PTSD (stemming from a discrete traumatic event in adulthood like a car accident or assault) or those who have tried other courses of therapy, done a lot of good work and don’t feel quite finished. 

EMDR is also definitely indicated in cases of complex PTSD and those with severe trauma histories they have yet to address.  I will begin offering service to that population at the end of June 2010.

My recent training

For anyone who is interested, the training that I completed was through the Fraser Institute, based in the Niagara Region.  We spent 4 days studying theory, technique and, most importantly, completing a practicum doing some very intense work with each other.  I have experienced the process and I know it works.  In June, I will complete three more days of training that will equip me to start working with very complex trauma survivors.

I have also acquired a network of folks all over Southern Ontario that can offer this service so if you think you know a friend who could benefit elsewhere, let me know.