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Eye movement desensitization therapy (EMDR), is a research proven approach for treating trauma. In over 30 studies, 85-90% of PTSD patients studies were no longer symptomatic after 3 ninety minute EMDR sessions with a certified provider. In some studies, it has been found to be more effective than SSRI medication and it is endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO), the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

It has been used effectively with traumas such as child abuse, sexual assault, combat and even more common traumas, such as humiliation or harassment. This approach is also very effective in treating anxiety disorders, phobias, depression, in addition to PTSD. It can be combined with other treatment modalities, such as CBT and Mindfulness.

The therapist and client identify together the target memories to work on in therapy. In addition to these vivid and visual  memories of the trauma, there is often a negative self-belief attached to the event. For example, the client might believe, “I am unlovable” or “I am a weak person.” The traumatic memory may continue to be relived through dreams, flashbacks or generalized anxiety. EMDR involves bilateral stimulation with either rapid eye movement, touching, or auditory sounds. It has been found that this repeated desensitization technique re-processes the memory of the trauma and the negative self-beliefs associated with it. It will help you reprocess what happened to you and target other symptoms of the trauma as well, such as anxiety and depression, to help you begin to live your life again.

The goal of treatment is to eliminate the subjective discomfort due to unprocessed memories, to teach powerful self- regulation techniques to manage related anxiety, and to change negative self- perceptions into believing in one’s own sense of safety, control and responsibility.

The EMDR Institute requires rigorous training and supervision for clinicians to use this method.
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