Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a fairly new type of psychotherapy used particularly for treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
When you’re new to EMDR it can appear to approach psychological issues in an unusual way. It does not rely on medicine or talk therapy for answers, but instead uses a patient’s rapid and rhythmic eye movement. These eye movements weaken the power of emotionally charged memories of past traumatic events.
During an EMDR treatment session, the therapist will move his or her fingers back and forth in front of your face and ask you to follow with your eyes. can last up to 90 minutes. At the same time, the EMDR therapist will have you recall a disturbing event. This will include the emotions and body sensations that go along with it. Gradually, the therapist will guide you to shift your thoughts to more pleasant ones.
People who use the technique argue that EMDR can weaken the effect of negative emotions. Before and after each EMDR treatment, your therapist will ask you to rate your level of distress. The hope is that your disturbing memories will become less disabling. These sessions can last up to 90 minutes.
Although most research has examined the use of EMDR use in people with PTSD, it is sometimes used experimentally to treat other psychological problems, such as:
- Panic attacks
- Eating disorders
- Anxiety, such as discomfort with public speaking or dental procedures