Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing or EMDR was developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro in the middle 1980’s. EMDR is one of the newer “power” therapies that has recently been acknowledged and accepted by the professional community and the general public. They are known as “power” therapies because they work much quicker than traditional “talk therapy” or psychotherapy. The other accelerated therapies are NET™, hypnosis, TFT, and the TFT offshoots such as EFT.

EMDR/Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, like the other quick therapies, works by targeting the lower and more primal parts of the mind. Talk therapy, in contrast, focuses mainly on the PreFrontal Cortex and relies on insight to effect change. EMDR works primarily through the subconscious, although insight often comes as a result.

It is theorized that EMDR also activates and quickly changes the mind/body continuum and therefore can be appropriately categorized as an “energy psychology” as well. Energy psychology is based on Chinese medicine and more particularly on the acupuncture/acupressure system. This system believes that chi, which is electricity or energy, travels through the meridians or rivers of acupuncture points in the body. This energy can become unbalanced by physical, emotional, or traumatic factors. Energy psychology postulates that by balancing this system the problems from these causes are quickly relieved.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing works on many problems, but is especially effective with traumas both past and present. The therapist quickly moves their hand back and forth, while asking the client to move only their eyes while they track the hand’s movement. The client is directed to think of the trauma during the procedure. After 20-25 hand movements the client is asked to focus on what issue, feeling, thought, or aspect of the trauma is now most prominent. The procedure is then repeated for this new target. The problem is often painlessly resolved after only a few sessions compared to traditional therapy, which often lasts for months or years.

This movement of the eyes mimics the REM or rapid eye movements that are made when a person is dreaming. It is theorized that we shift short term memory into long term memory via REM. The emotional component in long term memory is significantly reduced and is remembered as if from a great distance. Any trauma can become stuck, especially if it is painful and severe. This type of therapy can quickly and effectively remove this impediment and reprocess the information, thus relieving the problem.

Jef Gazley, LMFT

Author's Bio: 

JEF GAZLEY, M.S., LMFT, DCC has practiced psychotherapy for over thirty years and is the owner operator of www.asktheinternettherapist.com since 1998 and www.hypnosisCDsandMP3s.com (formerly hypnosistapes4health.com). He is the author of eight mental health educational videos and DVDs and is currently writing a book on distance counseling. Jef is State Licensed in General Counseling, Marriage/Family, and Substance Abuse in Arizona and is a certified hypnotherapist. He is dedicated to guiding individuals to achieving a life long commitment to mental health and relationship mastery. In his private practice in Scottsdale, Arizona, Jef specializes in ADD, love addiction, hypnotherapy, dysfunctional families, codependency, and trauma. He is a trained counselor in EMDR, NET™, TFT, hypnotist, and Applied Kinesiology. Jef received his B.A. in Psychology, History, and Teaching from the University of Washington and his Masters in Counseling from the University of Oregon.