Honoring the Tradition of Indian Women Warriors


The evidence is mounting: EMDR reduces trauma-related symptoms like anxiety, depression and flashbacks. It’s been recognized as an effective treatment for PTSD by organizations such as the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization and the Department of Defense.

Developed by psychologist Francine Shapiro, EMDR is designed to reduce the impact of disturbing memories and events on our mental and emotional well-being. It works to change how we store those memories in our brain, so they don’t cause distress in the future. EMDR is used to treat a variety of mental health concerns, but the most extensive research supports its effectiveness in treating PTSD.

EMDR consists of eight phases that a clinician will guide you through over the course of therapy. As you go through the different phases, your therapist will have you focus on an image or memory while performing sets of bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements, taps or oscillating tones. These distractors should be compelling enough to distract you, but not so intense that they’re overwhelming. Multiplication tables, for instance, would be too difficult to concentrate on while engaging with a traumatic memory.

Your therapist will begin the process by getting you to identify an upsetting memory, such as the time you got into a car accident or being assaulted. They will then ask you to recall the memory in small segments until it doesn’t trigger distress or discomfort.

While this can be a painful process, it’s important to remember that it won’t last long. Once the memory is no longer upsetting, you can move on to the next step. During this phase, your therapist will have you rate how strong the negative emotion is and identify a positive belief you want to build in during the session.

As the final stage of reprocessing, your therapist will have you engage in the same set of bilateral stimulation and then rate how strong the negative emotion is and again identify a positive belief. As the session continues, your therapist will have you rate how strongly each of these positive beliefs is held. The goal is to continue this process until the positive beliefs outweigh the negative ones.

Although EMDR was created to treat PTSD, research is also showing that it can be useful in other mental health conditions. For example, it has been shown to be effective in reducing PTSD symptoms related to job stress and depression. It’s even been used to treat medical conditions, such as phantom limb pain, that are triggered by stress. EMDR is still considered a newer form of therapy, and researchers aren’t completely sure why it works. However, it seems to get to the root of the problem rather than just masking the symptoms. This could be a significant reason why it’s so effective, especially when other forms of talk therapy haven’t been.