Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About EMDR

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a form of psychotherapy that was originally developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro in 1987 to alleviate distress caused by trauma. It is used for treating emotional difficulties caused by distressing life situations. It is now used worldwide and is also highly effective in strengthening performance in a wide range of activities such as work productivity including sales, competitive sports, the performing arts and public speaking.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. EMDR is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches. To date, EMDR therapy has helped millions of people of all ages relieve many types of psychological stress.

The American Psychological Association lists EMDR as one of three methods with empirical support for the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Preliminary studies indicate that EMDR can be helpful with other disorders such as: performance anxiety, pain disorder, social phobia, anxiety disorder, and poor self-esteem.

It has been recognized by the US Department of Veterans Affairs and US Department of Defense as one of four psychotherapies at the highest level of evidence. Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom Departments of Health both indicate EMDR as a treatment of choice.

 

"EMDR quickly opens new windows on reality, allowing people to see solutions within themselves that they never knew were there. And it’s a therapy where the client is very much in charge, which can be particularly meaningful when people are recovering from having their power taken away by abuse and violation." 
- Laura S. Brown, Ph.D, Recipient of the American Psychological Association Award for Distinguished Professional Contributions to Public Service

 

At the Mind, Body & Spirit Weekend at the Calgary Public Library, Lynn was invited to give a presentation on EMDR. In the 35 minute video below, Lynn discusses the History of EMDR and its applications and she goes, step-by-step, through the experience of EMDR therapy:

 
 

A visitor to Calgary contacted Lynn for treatment for a driving phobia. Lynn used a combination of hypnosis and EMDR to help her and later discovered that this client posted a review online about her success: 

Thanks to Lynn Lambert and her expertise in EMDR. I had to utilize EMDR and clinical hypnosis to overcome a strange performance anxiety and phobia around driving again. I had been spoiled by the Toronto, New York, and London subway systems for years until a pitt stop in Calgary en route to California. Being back in the West meant being behind a wheel (I hadn't since I was 17) and having to re-license all over again. While it should have been easy it was tougher than the GMAT. I blanked out 9 times in a row. My friend in Toronto suggested it was a mental block due to having witnessed a head on collison as a child on a highway. While I didn't think it could have affected me to this extent it appeared to be one of the irrational culprits. Lynn and I worked together for three seasons with EMDR to eliminate the performance blocks and my test anxiety. Once I had completed my relocation to California I passed the driving test on the first go. The Alberta test had 25 questions while the California one had 36 and I had to re-learn everything because the American version did not use the metric system, had different terms, and unique traffic laws... but I passed and the DMV agent wrote a happy face on my test paper! Thanks Lynn! Now I can take you for a cruise ride along the California coast! - Bettie P. (Posted on Yelp.ca)

Studies indicate EMDR is highly effective and the results are long lasting.

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How does EMDR work?
When someone is very upset their brain does not seem to process information the way it is supposed to. Consequently, a disturbing memory becomes "frozen in time" and the sensations are continually re-experienced often with the same intensity as when the event occurred. This can then trigger negative thoughts and emotions in present day living. These negative thoughts, emotions and sensations then block the individual from achieving important goals and living life with full confidence and strength.

In these situations, where EMDR can be very powerful. EMDR is a simple process that engages our brain to send a message into the central nervous system to release the information that is no longer needed—such as habitual negative feelings and false beliefs. These negative emotions and beliefs were often absorbed when we were much younger; for this reason, EMDR serves as a "developmental catch up" and moves us rapidly through the past stuckness. This process acts to jumpstart our own ability to overcome blocks or barriers.

EMDR clears the mind, so that the disturbing past images, sounds and feelings are no longer "relived" when the original event comes to mind. In fact, recent state of the art brain imaging indicates that EMDR facilitates communication between the left and right hemispheres of the brain and it appears to get all parts of the brain working together to process memory more effectively and accurately.

Who Will Benefit from EMDR Treatment?

  • anyone concerned about their work or sports performance
  • someone in a leadership or management role
  • people working in roles such as sales, marketing, educators, coaches, public reations, performing arts
  • people in transition changing careers requiring higher levels of productivity
  • anyone experiencing conflict with coworkers or superiors

EMDR is the Most Researched Psychotherapeutic Treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

What is a first session like?
Before proceeding with EMDR, Lynn will meet with you in a first session to obtain your current concerns and background history. If it seems that EMDR is an appropriate treatment you will be given information about it so you can determine for yourself if it is something you want. When you start an EMDR session you will identify the distressing event, the thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations you have when thinking about it. At the same time, we use a vibrating tapper held in each hand (bilateral stimulation). You will notice whatever comes to mind without making any conscious decision to direct or to control the thoughts. There is no right or wrong way to think through this process. Sets of tapping will continue until the memory becomes much less distressing and you have developed more positive beliefs about yourself in relationship to that memory. It is important to realize that you are the one in charge. The vast majority of my clients report feeling significantly relieved and much calmer at the completion of the first session.

Will my health insurance cover the cost?
EMDR is used in combination with other forms of treatment. Check the benefits of your heath plan to determine the coverage for working with a registered professional therapist or counselor.

How many sessions will I need?
The number of sessions depends on the specific problem, your history, and the complexity of the distressing memories. The amount of preparation needed will vary from client to client. In the majority of instances the active processing of memories should begin after one or two sessions. Once EMDR therapy is started, a typical course of treatment is 3 to 10 sessions. Studies show that a single trauma can be processed within 3 sessions in 80-90% of the clients. The process is normally conducted weekly or every other week. Sessions can run from 60 to 90 minutes.

How do I know that EMDR works?
EMDR accelerates the healing process and you should begin to notice positive changes physically, mentally and emotionally within the first few sessions. Experiences of several million people worldwide, and a number of scientific studies, have shown that EMDR works! For further references and a bibliography of research visit these websites: The EMDR Institute (Founded by Dr. Francine Shapiro) and the EMDR International Association