Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) was developed in the late 1980’s by psychologist Francine Shapiro, Ph.D. after she made the chance observation that eye movements can reduce the intensity of disturbing thoughts and images. EMDR was first used to treat war veterans suffering from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) brought on by their experiences in combat. It was found to provide complete relief, often in only a few therapy sessions from the nightmares, flashbacks, insomnia, depression and anxiety associated with PTSD. Since then, EMDR has been shown to be just as effective in treating those whose symptoms are the result of other types of trauma, such as the loss of a loved one through death, childhood physical or sexual abuse, domestic violence, natural disasters and accidents.
EMDR seems to have a direct effect on the way that the brain processes information, which may be similar to what happens naturally during REM (Rapid Eye Movement), or dream sleep. After successful treatment with EMDR, a person whose memories were previously vivid and emotionally disturbing will no longer relive those events in the same way. He or she will still remember what happened, but no longer in such an upsetting way.
Dr. Christenson is a Level II trained EMDR therapist who treats adults and adolescents. To view a news story about EMDR please visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBtqWrs2-K0.