Dr. Francine Shapiro developed Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy in the early 1990’s. Originally, EMDR was only used to help clients with trauma, but now it has been significantly expanded to help clients who are struggling with depression, anxiety, fears, addictive/compulsive behaviors, and everyday negative experiences.
I have found that EMDR helps my clients get un-stuck when they feel like they cannot get past certain disturbing memories or behaviors. EMDR is largely non-verbal with clients processing what thoughts they have in their mind, feelings, and any sensations in their bodies. The only verbal part of EMDR is briefly describing to the therapist what is happening and sometimes being slightly guided by the therapist.
A client starts EMDR by thinking about the bad memory and identifying any negative thoughts about themselves and rating how disturbing the memory is to them. Then the client engages in right/left eye movements or sounds without talking and notices whatever thoughts or feelings they have. Often, clients notice that their thoughts and feelings will begin to shift to all kinds of memories. What I have experienced is that by the end of the session the disturbance typically goes down, often significantly.
I am a certified practitioner of EMDR and have been using this method regularly with clients since 2006. Adults and children are both able to use EMDR to help them with bad memories, though EMDR with children is much more playful and much shorter in duration. I offer EMDR as a sole method of therapy or as an adjunct to other therapies. I also work with clients who have been referred to me solely for EMDR while they continue to work with the referring therapist in cognitive (“talk”) therapy.