Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy treatment that is designed to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories. Research shows that EMDR is rapid, safe and effective. It is a simple noninvasive client-therapist collaboration in which the client accessing traumatic memory while simultaneously generating a bilateral stimulation of the brain (generally done through eye movement).
While traditional therapies often focus on memories from the unconscious mind, and then analyzing their meaning to gain insight into the problem, EMDR clients can short-cut that process and ago right to the releasing stage. Studies consistently show that treatments with EMDR result in elimination of the targeted emotion or memory. The memory remains, but the negative response is neutralized.
The Department of Defense/Department of Veterans Affairs Practice Guidelines has placed EMDR in the highest category, recommended for all trauma populations at all times. In addition the International society for Traumatic Stress Studies current treatment guidelines have designated EMDR as an effective treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Why do EMDR? Many times, how we respond to our children when they are in a dysregulated state is connected to our “unfinished business”. During highly stressful interactions, our own unresolved traumas become activated, and we begin responding to our present as if it is our past (ex: an out-of-control child ceases being a child who is in an acute state of distress, but triggers the memory of an abusive, controlling parent. We react to this memory as if it is happening in the now and we are that scared vulnerable child). Through resolving these past painful events, we are more capable of remaining present and capable of assessing and meeting the needs of our children.
In addition, EMDR outcome studies have shown how efficacious it can be when working with younger populations. Children seem particularly responsive to rapid resolution, when utilizing this intervention as part of their overall treatment plan.