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EMDR - Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

The abbreviation EMDR stands for “Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing” and is a psychotherapeutic method that is primarily used to treat trauma-related disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

How does EMDR work?!?

1. Identification of target memory:
Therapy begins with the therapist working with the client to identify a specific traumatic event or distressing memory that needs to be addressed. It is precisely this memory that is set as the goal for the therapy session.

2. Desensitization and Processing:
The essence of the EMDR session is to instruct the client to focus on the traumatic event while following a therapist-led bilateral stimulus (both hemispheres of the brain are alternately stimulated). These can be eye movements (the patient follows the therapist’s finger movements), but also tactile (independent tapping, for example on the thighs) or acoustic stimuli (using a sound collar), which are used alternately on both sides of the body. These bilateral stimuli help activate the brain’s natural processing mechanisms.

3. Change in emotional response:
As the client focuses on the traumatic event while simultaneously following the bilateral stimuli, the feelings and thoughts associated with the trauma begin to change. The theory behind EMDR is that the bilateral stimuli help to facilitate information processing in the brain, resulting in the traumatic memory being reprocessed and dulling its emotional impact.

4. Installation of positive cognitions:
After the memory has been desensitized, the therapist works with the client to reinforce positive thoughts or beliefs associated with the edited memory. The goal is to improve the client’s self-esteem and develop a more positive attitude towards the memory.

5. Physical Reactions and Conclusion:
The therapist also asks the client to pay attention to any physical sensations associated with the memory. The process continues until the client reports that the memory is less distressing.

6. Follow-up and review:
In later sessions, the therapist reviews progress and, if necessary, addresses further traumatic memories.

The effectiveness of EMDR has been proven by various medical studies, particularly in the treatment of PTSD, and is considered by many to be an effective method for treating traumatic experiences.