EMDR is an integrative approach to healing developed by Francine Shapiro PhD when she was working with Vietnam Veterans suffering PTSD in the USA. She discovered that when she offered survivors embodied external bi-lateral stimulation, they were often better able to process emotionally disturbing thoughts, overwhelming memories and traumatic symptoms in their bodies. It is reported that her clients experienced palpable alleviation of their suffering, regain and better sustain stability and return to healthier lifestyles.

It appears that EMDR has a direct effect on the brain as it utilizes the process of dual attention. In particular it appears to access experience similar to what naturally occurs during REM sleep and the dreaming process – dreaming being nature’s way of securing and maintaining psychological health. The process however supports our capacities to be mindful of all experience whilst fully awake.

As an integrative approach, EMDR incorporates dynamic, experiential, cognitive behavioural, developmental and body-based psychotherapies. The approach targets past experience and current triggers which disable our development towards our full potential. It follows then that EMDR can be very effective in working with relational and developmental wounding, including stress and anxiety, as well as traumatic events. Often core negative beliefs installed in the past underpin the barriers to living life fully. Examples of these beliefs include, “I’m not good enough”, “I’m unlovable”, “I’m in danger”, “I’m a bad person”, “I am stupid”, “I have to be perfect” “I cannot trust” etc. These negative thoughts mar our vibrancy and vitality and in turn impact our relationships with ourselves and others.

This integrative approach addresses the underpinnings of past woundings and traumas and can support movement towards health. It is important to acknowledge however that although EMDR was originally created within the trauma context it is not in any way a “quick-fix” to healing trauma, but part of a careful and comprehensive treatment process.

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Last Updated 23rd May 2020