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Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

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Gold Coast Eye Movement Desensitazation & Reprocessing (EMDR)

This is a psychotherapy treatment used to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories. After successful treatment with EMDR, affective distress decreases, negative beliefs are reformulated, and physiological arousal is also reduced.

In 1987, psychologist Dr. Francine Shapiro made the observation that certain eye movements could reduce the intensity of disturbing thoughts, feelings and associated bodily sensations. During a EMDR session a client attends to emotionally disturbing material in brief sequential periods, whilst simultaneously focusing on an external stimulus; most commonly eye movements. EMDR facilitates the accessing of the traumatic memory network, so that information processing is enhanced, with new associations made between the traumatic memory and more adaptive memories or information. These new associations can result in complete information processing, new learning, significant reduction or elimination of emotional distress, and the development of new cognitive insights.

EMDR uses a three pronged protocol:

1. the past events that have laid the groundwork for dysfunction are processed, developing new associative links with adaptive information;

2. the current circumstances that elicit distress are targeted, and internal and external triggers are desensitized;

3. templates of future events are incorporated, to assist the client in acquiring the skills needed for adaptive functioning.

When a person becomes very upset, their brain cannot process information as it does ordinarily, which is a reason why emotionally ditressed people can behave so irrationally. One moment can become “frozen in time,” and remembering a trauma may feel just as bad as it was going through it the first time because the images, smells, sounds and feelings haven’t changed. Such memories can have a lasting negative effect that may interfere with the way a person perceives things, functions in daily life, and in the way they relate to others.

EMDR can be thought of as a physiologically based therapy that helps a person see disturbing material in a new and less distressing way. EMDR seems to have a direct impact upon the way that the brain processes information and normal information processing can be resumed.  After successful EMDR therapy, a person no longer as intensely relives the images, sounds, and feelings when the event is brought to mind. Of course you still remember what happened, but it is less upsetting.  EMDR appears to be similar to what occurs naturally during dreaming or REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. After EMDR processing clients generally report that the emotional distress related to a traumatic memory has been eliminated, or at least greatly reduced, and that they have gained important cognitive insights. Importantly, these emotional and cognitive changes usually result in spontaneous improved behavioural changes.

Scientific research has established EMDR is effective for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Clinicians have reported great success in using EMDR for the treatment of complicated grief, dissociative disorders, disturbing memories, panic attacks, phobias, pain disorders, eating disorders, body dysmorphic disorders, performance anxiety, stress reduction, addictions, sexual and/or physical abuse.