EYE MOVEMENT DESENSITIZATION
In the last few there have been more studies and research on EMDR than on any other method for the treatment of trauma and stress. The outcome of this work has opened a new dimension in psychotherapy. Effectiveness of EMDR has been demonstrated in the treatmente of all types of trauma, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. . In 1995 the APA Division 12 (Clinical Psychology) initiated a project to determine to what extent therapeutic methodology was supported by solid empirical evidence. The results of the study established that EMDR is not only effective for the treatment of PTSD but is also more efficient than other treatments.
EMDR is a very structured complex approach that can be integrated in therapeutical programs to improve their effectiveness. EMDR takes into account the cognitive, emotional, behavioural and neurophysiological aspects. This methodlogy employs structured eye movements or other forms of alternating stimulation (right/left) to reestablish the excitatory/inhibitory balance, creating a better communication between brain hemispheres. It is based on a natural neuro-physiological process which entails accelerated information processing.
EMDR psychoterapy sees pathology as dysfunctionally stored information and postulates that there is a physiological component in every disorder or psychological discomfort. When there is a "traumatic" event, the excitatory/inhibitory balance necessary for information processing is disturbed. This might provoke the "freezing" of information in its original anxiety state, in the same way that it was experienced. This "frozen" information, closed in the neural network cannot be processed and therefore it determines pathology such as PTSD and other psychological disorders.
Sacadic and rhythmic eye movements used on the traumatic image and the negative cognitive factors, reestablish the neural balance since they imporve communication between the brain hemispheres, modifying the pathology of the neural network and allowing the processing of the information till it reaches a resolution. In adaptive resolution the experience is used in a constructive way by the client and it becomes integrated in a positive cognitive and emotional schema.
Research conducted with victims of sexual abuse, road traffic accidents, natural catastrophes, and so on, shows how this method allows a rapid desensitization of traumatic memories and a cognitive restructuring that decreases symptomatology in a meaningful way (emotional stress, intrusive thoughts, anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares). This new form of psychotherapy was in fact initially addressed to PTSD only, but currently it is a widely applied method for the treatment of many pathologies and psychological disorders as Anxiety, Panic attacks, Obsessive Compulsive Disorders, Eating and Sexual disorders.
EMDR is used to access, neutralize and provide an adaptive resolution to memories of traumatic and stressful experiences that are the cause of the client’s present complaints.
These traumatic experiences can be:
- · minor/major trauma experienced in the stage of developmental
- · common stressful events (mourning, chronical illness, financial losses, marital conflict, changes)
- · uncommon stressful events: natural disasters (earthquakes, flooding) or serious accidents, torture, violence