What is EMDR therapy?
EMDR therapy enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of traumatic experiences. Whether they occurred recently or a long time ago.
EMDR means Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is an effective approach of psychotherapy, discovered by psychologist Dr. Francine Shapiro. She made the chance observation that eye movements had a distinct and beneficial effect on her thoughts and emotions.
Since then, EMDR therapy has developed and evolved through the contributions of therapists and researchers all over the world. It turned out that the effects of the eye movements can be achieved as well with other types of repetitive stimulation, including auditory tones and tapping.
In general, when a person is very upset, their brain cannot process information as it does ordinarily. One moment becomes “frozen in time,” and remembering a trauma may feel as bad as going through it the first time because the images, sounds, smells, and feelings haven’t changed.
Such memories have a lasting negative effect that interferes with the way a person sees the world and the way they relate to other people.
EMDR therapy seems to have a fast and direct effect on the way that the brain processes information. It appears to be similar to what occurs naturally during dreaming or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.
In a succesful EMDR session, an experience is properly digested and integrated into the system. Negative memories become less upsetting, while positive experiences become more vivid and empowering.
How long does EMDR take?
In general we start with one intake session. This is required to understand the nature of the problem and to decide whether EMDR is an appropriate treatment. We will discuss EMDR more fully and it is also an opportunity to answer questions about the method.
After this intake session the actual EMDR therapy may begin.
A typical, complete EMDR session lasts 2 hours. The type of problem, life circumstances, and the amount of previous trauma will determine how many treatment sessions are necessary.
I am a certified EMDR therapist, based in Amsterdam and trained at the Nederlandse Academie for Psychotherapie.