What is EMDR? EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapeutic method that is used for the treatment of trauma. Using a standardized protocol, EMDR incorporates somatic awareness, mindfulness, attention to beliefs, and interpersonal techniques. A key component of EMDR is the use of bilateral sensory stimulation - visual, audio, or tactile stimulation that alternates left to right. (This can take the form of eye movements facilitated by following a lightbar or the therapist's finger, listening to alternating tones through a headset, tapping or hand-held buzzers.) Extensive scientific research has positioned EMDR as the treatment of choice for trauma. EMDR has also been used effectively in the treatment of other problems such as phobias, anxiety, and panic attacks. Modified forms of EMDR have also been successfully used to enhance performance in athletes or other professionals. What is trauma? Simply put, trauma is distress or dysfunction that occurs as the result of and long after a frightening and overwhelming event. The distress may take the form of nightmares, intrusive memories, flashbacks, hyper-vigilance, dissociation, over-reaction to or avoidance of things that trigger memories of the event. Such reactions typically recur when something in the environment triggers a neurological re-experiencing of the original event. More extreme trauma manifests in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD.) What is an EMDR session like? By the time of the first EMDR session, the therapist has spent at least a few preparation sessions assessing the appropriateness of EMDR for your work, gathering historical information, and introducing resourcing techniques that assist in regulating and containing distress. Once you and your therapist have selected a target memory or issue to work with, you'll be guided in bringing your attention to an image representing the worst part of the event, the negative belief associated with the memory, your emotions and the sensory feelings in your body that come up. (You do NOT need to share the details of the event or memory with your therapist.) This focused attention and processing of the memory is accompanied by bilateral sensory stimulation using a specific protocol. Once the targeted memory is desensitized, attention is directed toward integrating a new positive state and belief associated with the now-processed memory. Unlike hypnosis, you'll remain conscious and aware to the present throughout the process. Where can I get additional information about EMDR? Visit the website for the EMDR International Association: www.EMDRIA.org.