Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

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There are many events in a person’s life that can be considered traumatic. Trauma can be easily described as a distressing experience caused by an event or physical injury. The symptoms that follow a traumatic event can include disassociation, hyperarousal, and avoidance. Some people choose to cope with their symptoms in many different ways such as substance abuse, medication, and/or therapy. When working with trauma there are many diverse forms of treatment. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing [EMDR] is one form of treatment that appears to be effective. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing is a treatment used in psychotherapy to alleviate distress associated with trauma (Shapiro, 1991). During EMDR clients reprocess information while focusing on external stimuli such as, lateral eye movements, hand tapping, and audio stimulation. Francine Shapiro developed EMDR in 1987 after discovering that eye movements had a desensitizing effect on herslef, and also after experimenting she found that others also had the same response to eye movements. In 1987, Shapiro named this approach to treatment Eye Movement Desensitization. A case study was conducted to test the effectiveness of eye movement desensitization. The results indicated there was a significant decrease in distress and increase in confidence in positivity (EMDR Institute, 2012). When this treatment was first discovered it was reported it serves to decrease anxiety and did not claim to eliminate all posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms. Gaining feedback from clients and clinicians this treatment continued to develop. In 1991 reprocessing was added to eye movement desensitization creating EMDR. Adding reprocessing was to reflect the insights and cognitive changes that occurred during treatment and to identify the information processing theory (that Shapiro developed) to explain the treatment effects (2012). In 1995 the EMDR International Association was founded to establish standards for training and practice (Shapiro, 2001). There have been many studies published in regards to posttraumatic stress disorder and demonstrating the effectiveness of EMDR.

EMDR therapy happens in eight stages. EMDR requires clients to think about the past, present, and future. The first phase is designed to obtain history and also to develop treatment planning. Obtaining history information can take one to two sessions or it is something that is continuous throughout therapy. Clinicians will discuss with the client the specific problem and symptoms resulting from the problem. The client does not have to give much detail in regards to history. Some people will share and give great information and specifics and there are others who are only comfortable sharing limited information. With the background information and history collected, the therapist will be able to develop a treatment plan that will identify targets on which to use EMDR (Shapiro, 1991). Targets are the events from the past that created the problem, situations that cause distress, and skills client needs to learn for future well being (1991). The second phase is preparation, it is important to explain the theory of EMDR and how it works. Establishing rapport to ensure clients are reporting accurate feelings and changes that are experienced during eye movements is helpful (Shapiro, 2001). The second phase of treatment the therapist will also ensure the client has several ways to cope with difficult situations. The therapist is able to teach different techniques of imagery and stress reduction techniques that clients can use during sessions. The techniques are used to rapidly produce change in emotional disturbances (2001). The client at this point is learning self care. The third phase is assessment, in this phase the client will select a specific memory/picture from the target event. At that time a statement is chosen that expresses a negative self belief associated with the event (Shapiro, 2001)....
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