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EMDR Heals the Wounded Soul
Part 1:  What Is It and Can It Help You?
 More of this Feature
• Part 2: Leeny's Story:  When Love Equals Pain
• Part 3: EMDR Aids Leeny's Healing
• Part 4: Eponine's Story:  Healing from Traumatic Loss
 Join the Discussion
"Has EMDR been a part of your therapy?  What has your experience with it been?"
Come share on the forum
  Related Resources
• EMDR Net Links
 From Other Guides
• An article from a psychologist who practices EMDR
• More from an EMDR expert
 Elsewhere on the Web
• EMDR International Association
• EMDR Institute

By Nancy Schimelpfening

You may have heard the buzz about a new type of therapy called EMDR that's being used to help patients with PTSD and phobias.  This simple but effective therapy is used to quickly uncover and heal deep traumas from the past.  Unfortunately many of the information sites on the Web seem to be directed towards practitioners, not the patient.  There are few places you can go to get a clear, simple explanation of what this therapy entails.  To fill this need, I have answered in layman's terms some of your most frequently asked questions about EMDR.  I have also included two stories submitted by our members about their personal experiences with this therapy to give you an added perspective on what you can expect.  If you have deep-seated fears or emotional scars this may be just what you need to achieve healing.

What is EMDR?

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.  It is used to treat PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and other similar disorders such as phobias on a short-term basis.

How does it work?

No one is completely sure how or why it works.  One theory is that our subconscious minds try to help us work out difficult issues during our dreams.  EMDR seeks to replicate the rapid eye movement of dreaming and thus allow one to work on issues in a similar way.

What is the actual procedure like?

An example of how a session might go is this:

The patient makes himself comfortable.  The patient and therapist discuss what issues they will work on in this particular session.  The therapist sits to the patient's side and holds her three middle fingers together similar to a Boy Scout's salute, but about six inches in front of the patient's eyes.  The patient is instructed to follow the fingers as the therapist moves them rhythmically back and forth in front of his eyes.  The patient then attempts to remember the particular event as the therapist continues the movement.  The whole procedure lasts for perhaps five minutes at which time the therapist withdraws her fingers.  Patient and therapist then further discuss what has been remembered.

Does it feel like dreaming?

No, it is not surreal like dreaming.  Patient's report being able to remember details that they could not before, including the physical and emotional sensations that they originally experienced.

How long does it take for it to work?

It is generally a short-term therapy.  Patients may begin to experience some breakthrough in just one session.

Who is a good candidate for EMDR?

EMDR is used for people who have experienced some sort of trauma or have strong phobias.  Examples of those who might benefit are those who have been abused, have undergone natural disasters or who have been in a combat situation.

Good candidates are also those who are willing to bring their inner demons out into the daylight and deal with them.  It is also for those who have a strong desire to be liberated from the traumas of the past.

How can I find a therapist who practices EMDR?

EMDR International Association provides a searchable database of therapists who are certified to practice EMDR. 

Where can I learn more about EMDR?

The links provided in the box on the right side of this page provide a good jumping off point to learn more about EMDR, both from a layperson's and professional's point of view.

Next page > Leeny's Story:  When Love Equals Pain Page 1, 2, 3, 4

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