What is EMDR?

EMDR has emerged as a therapy method that has been heard frequently and attracted attention in recent years. It stands for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR for short). It was developed in 1987 by Francine Shapiro in the USA for use in the psychotherapy of trauma survivors.

Today, there are many studies on the effectiveness of EMDR, especially on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). So, how does EMDR work?

Let’s try to explain this with an example. Imagine you have a puzzle in your hand, the pieces are completely scattered and you have trouble putting them together. Unless you can put it together, the pieces of that puzzle are scattered around and it bothers you, but if you can combine it, you can remove it as a whole, or even frame it and hang it on the wall. Traumatic memories occupy a place in our minds scattered like the pieces of this puzzle, and as long as we cannot put these pieces together, they cause us to feel uncomfortable, to feel like we are reliving the event, and even to be triggered by clues that remind us of the event. As long as we can’t put the puzzle together, we continue to look for the pieces, put them together and try to find which one fits where. In short, we cannot relax until we finish the puzzle. EMDR allows us to put the pieces of this puzzle together and look at it as a whole and frame it and remove it.

To give a more scientific explanation with an example; Our brain stores information such as feelings, thoughts, images, sounds and smells related to that event along with every event it experiences. In this way, our reactions to similar events in the future are shaped together in our experiences. In a normally functioning system, this mechanism helps people to learn new experiences. EMDR is a method that facilitates the brain’s information processing and integrates the fragmented memories of the traumatic memory. It also provides personal development by strengthening one’s positive beliefs and positive emotions.

Who is EMDR suitable for?

Is EMDR only for those with post-traumatic stress disorder? No. In addition to major traumas such as natural disasters, major accidents, losses, war, harassment and rape, all kinds of traumatic experiences, especially in childhood, may remain as unprocessed memories in our minds. This; Negative events in family, school, work environment, exposure to physical or emotional violence, humiliation, rejection, neglect, abuse and failures in daily life can be among the unprocessed memories. As a result of these experiences, it is not obligatory for the person to develop PTSD, but problems such as anxiety disorder, withdrawal, depression, and phobia that disrupt the functioning of daily life may also occur. EMDR is also a suitable therapy for people who have these problems.

How is EMDR Therapy Applied?

In EMDR therapy, an 8-stage, three-pronged (past, present, future) protocol is applied. By targeting past memories, reprocessing provides desensitization and aims to treat present symptoms. Along with the treatment of current symptoms, the last step is to empower the client to face similar problems in the future. During EMDR, bilateral stimulation is provided. There are different ways to do this; bidirectional eye movements, bidirectional tapping, etc. It stimulates the right and left sides of the brain at the same time.

How Long Does EMDR Take?

EMDR practice has a structured protocol and is generally considered a short course of therapy. However, the duration of therapy varies according to the type of problem, current living conditions, how much the problem affects their life, and the number of previous traumatic experiences. As in every therapy process, the EMDR process progresses in a unique way.

Who can apply EMDR therapy?

Only specialists who have received EMDR therapy practitioner training and are certified can perform EMDR therapy. It is important for mental health that clients who want to receive EMDR therapy learn whether the specialist is a certified practitioner.

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