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EMDR: Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing

We process emotional and intellectual material in different parts of our brain.

Francine Shapiro developer of EMDR states in her book, (2001) Eye Movement Desenitization and Reprocessing that EMDR is a specific integrative psychotherapeutic approach to treat trauma. Shapiro states that a continued pattern of affect, cognitions, behavior and consequent identity structures can be set in motion by earlier life experiences. Present-day stimuli can elicit negative affect and beliefs that are embodied in earlier experiences and their memories, causing the individual to act out in ways that are consistent with earlier traumatic events (Shapiro, 2001).

There appears to be an imbalance in the nervous system when someone experiences a severe psychological trauma. Due to the imbalance the information processing system is unable to function effectively. Therefore, the individuals affect, physical sensations, images and sounds remain neurologically in the disturbing state due to this imbalance. Equally important, the original material held in this excitatory state-specific form can be triggered by external and internal stimuli and possibly expressed in the form of intrusive thoughts, flashback and nightmares along with symptoms of PTSD. At the same time, there also appears to be a neurological balance allowing information to be processed to an ‘adaptive resolution.’ Appropriate associations are made with the treatment of EMDR and the experience is said to be used constructively by the individual and integrated into a positive cognitive and emotional schema (Shapiro, 2001).

In the course of EMDR treatment for trauma; an analogous healing is assumed if the information-processing mechanism is unblocked. As disturbing information is transformed there is a shift in cognitive structure. An individual’s self worth and efficacy automatically shift as specific memories are reprocessed. This leads to new self enhancing behaviors. Shapiro states that the hypothesis; is that the procedural element of EMDR, triggers a physiological state of which facilitates information processing. One of the main assumptions of EMDR is that by activating the processing of a traumatic memory will naturally help to move it toward the adaptive information processing that it needs for resolution (Shapiro, 2001).

The result of adaptive processing is learning, relief of somatic and emotional distress and the availability of adaptive responses and understanding. A state of balance or dual attention between internal accessed information and external bilateral stimulation is fostered by EMDR procedures. Similar to psychodynamic theory EMDR employs a free associative process and appears to enhance the working through of memory, utilizing insight, cognitive reorganization adaptive affects and physiological responses and integration. The Perceptual components of the memory (cognitive, affective, and somatic) are focused on with EMDR in order to expedite the accessing and processing of disturbing events and facilitate resolution of memories of earlier life experiences, incorporate adaptive attitudes, skills, and desired behaviors for enhanced future functioning (Shapiro, 2001).

EMDR is intended to alleviate human suffering and assist individuals to fulfill their potential for development. EMDR was given the highest level of recommendation (category for robust empirical support and demonstrated effectiveness) in the treatment of trauma. I am available to do power point presentations demonstrating the treatment and protocol on EMDR for any organization, college, institute, synagogue or church.

Consultant and Referrals Utilizing EMDR:

Besides my private practice I work as a consultant and EMDR clinician to other therapists that have clients which may need EMDR. If the referral comes from another therapist the EMDR consultation goes smoothly and productively. I like to work closely with the primary therapist so that the lines of authority are clear and the therapist knows I am only working as a consultant with their client. I want to reach out to the other therapist and do everything I can to make the primary therapist feel comfortable with the situation so that a treatment alliance is possible.

The primary therapist can give me client history and his or her experience in working with the client both of which can accelerate the process. The already established relationship with the primary therapist and their client allows me to proceed more quickly because the primary therapist can be a source of comfort and support. The more communication between me and the primary therapist, the more effective the consultation will be.

Please consider referring patients to me whose treatment will benefit from my experience and expertise in the treatment of EMDR. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to call. I look forward to having the opportunity to collaborate with you. I am seeing clients in New York City for EMDR. 

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