Eye Movement Desensitization Therapy for Victims of Trauma

emdr1Traumatic events can be difficult to come to terms with. If the experience is too disturbing, it leaves a negative impact on the person’s life. People who have experienced severe forms of trauma such as accidents, combat experiences or physical assault usually suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Many of them experience angry outbursts, sleeping difficulties and nightmares as a result of traumatic events.

If you are struggling with painful or disturbing memories, but found no success in traditional talk therapy, you might want to try Eye Movement Desensitization Therapy (EMDR). It is a relatively new treatment but a wide range of organizations, including the Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense and International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, swear by this technique.

What is EMDR?

EMDR is a non-invasive, cost-effective form of therapy that is designed to help patients overcome the devastating effects of psychological trauma.

Unlike other forms of psychotherapy, it brings you back to the past and prompts you to focus on the negative thought or troubling image that has overwhelmed the brain’s coping capacity or resilience. This is done while rapidly moving your eyes back and forth. Patients are asked to let their minds go blank and take note of what they are feeling during the process.

Here, prompted eye movement is often used, but it may also be conducted using other external prompts such as touch or sounds. It can come from an alternating taps on your left and right thighs or alternating bilateral sound using headphones.

When it works well, the memory loses its fearful influence. The memory becomes less vivid and less intense when recalled again. A person who has avoided driving due to the trauma caused by a vehicular accident may be willing to give driving a try again. An assault victim may realize that she is not to be blamed for what happened to her in the past.