EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy that helps people to heal from symptoms and/or emotional distress that are the result of negative life experiences. Studies show that using EMDR therapy experience the benefits of psychotherapy that once took years to make a difference at a rapid pace. EMDR therapy shows that the mind can heal from psychological trauma and negative beliefs similar to how the body recovers from physical trauma. God designed us to be able to heal. When you get a cut on your body, your body works to close and heal the wound. If you break a bone, your body works to build new bone. If a wound is irritated, it gets infected and causes pain. Once the irritant which has blocked the healing is removed, healing can resume. The brain’s information processing system is designed to naturally move toward mental health. If the emotional system is blocked or imbalanced by the impact of a disturbing event, the emotional wound can become “infected” and can cause intense pain. Once the block is removed, healing can resume. EMDR therapy helps clients activate their natural healing processes and heal the way God designed us to heal.
There has been extensive research on EMDR therapy which has caused it to be recognized as an effective form of treatment for trauma and other disturbing experiences by organizations such as the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization and the Department of Defense. Because of this worldwide recognition as an effective treatment of trauma, one can easily see how EMDR therapy would be effective in treating the negative experiences that are the reason people have low self-esteem, feelings of powerlessness, and other problems that bring them in for therapy. Over 100,000 clinicians throughout the world use EMDR therapy, with millions of people being treated successfully over the past 25 years.
EMDR therapy is an eight-phase treatment. After the clinician has determined which memory to target first, he asks the client to hold the worst part of the event or thought in mind and bilateral stimulation is used. As this happens, for reasons believed by a Harvard researcher to be connected with the biological mechanisms involved in Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, clients begin to process the memory and disturbing feelings. In successful EMDR therapy, the meaning of painful events is transformed on an emotional level to a point of resolve. The insights clients gain in EMDR therapy result not so much from clinician interpretation, but from the client’s own accelerated intellectual and emotional processes. The result is that clients feel empowered by the very experiences that once debased them. Their wounds have not only closed but have been transformed. A full description of the theory, sequence of treatment, and research on protocols and active mechanisms can be found in F. Shapiro (2001) Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing: Basic principles, protocols and procedures (2nd edition) New York: Guilford Press.