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EMDR In Psychology: How Does This Psychotherapy Work?

EMDR In Psychology

EMDR is a psychotherapy that is effective in several indications. Find out what EMDR is: its principles, its movements, the ways to implement it.

The term EMDR is the acronym of the English expression: Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. EMDR is a technique developed by Francine Shapiro in the late 1980s.

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EMDR Principles

It is neuro-emotional therapy. The central idea of ​​EMDR is this: When a traumatic life event occurs, most of the time, we can mobilize the resources to manage that event. But sometimes, due to the emotional overload of the moment, or just immaturity (e.g., a trauma in childhood), we are unable to mobilize these resources at the time of this event. Dysfunctional neural circuits then process this event. It is how the event takes on a dimension of trauma.

The idea of ​​EMDR is that if we can reprocess the past’s traumatic memory, by mobilizing the resources of the present, we manage to overcome the traumatic nature of the event. Thus, it is necessary to succeed in mobilizing functional neural circuits, not disturbed by emotional overload or dysfunctional thoughts. It is called the Adaptive Information Processing (AIP).

EMDR Techniques

To allow the information related to the traumatic event to be reprocessed, the patient must be partially in contact with the past (trauma), but only partially. Otherwise, he will get stuck in his dysfunctional patterns. Therefore, it is essential that the patient also remains partly present, where functional designs are active, making resources accessible.

When trauma occurs, young age and the emotional load prevent a lucid interpretation of the situation. The emotion is, therefore, not digested and remains very present.

Therefore, the idea is to reprocess the information with the aid of maturity and emotional distancing, possible in the present but which was not present when the trauma occurred. The therapy eventually desensitizes the emotions linked to the trauma and appropriate reading of the event.

I will be able to reprocess information and emotion. It is adaptive information processing (TAI).

Indications For EMDR

EMDR was first developed in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), in which it is useful.

Since then, the indications have multiplied. We can cite, for example, anxiety disorders: OCD, panic disorder, etc … However, in these last indications, the specific protocols used are relatively close to the techniques of cognitive and behavioral therapy (CBT), which remain the reference.

To Know

Some Things To Know About EMDR

EMDR sometimes has a reputation as a “miracle” psychotherapy. Be careful: psychotherapy, like the others, therefore with a success rate on specific disorders, alarming on others, but in all cases, there is only one probability of success, never sure!

Its Disadvantages

  • Sometimes the care is not so short as expected
  • Specific protocols
  • During EMDR psychotherapy, there may be a resurgence of sometimes significant emotions: abreaction (very significant emotional rise)
  • For some diagnoses such as OCD, EMDR uses protocols that are equivalent to TCC, which remains the gold standard in these disorders
  • EMDR is challenging to use in a depressed patient

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