EMDR: Transforming Lives

What does EMDR stand for?  Eye movement Desensitization and Reprocessing was developed by Dr.Francine Shapiro. Originally developed to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic stress memories, EMDR is a psychotherapy approach that helps to alleviate emotional distress and strengthen coping skills. According to The EMDR International Association (EMDRIA), EMDR has helped an estimated two million people of all ages relieve many types of psychological stress.

What can EMDR be used for? EMDR can address a wide range of concerns including- anxiety panic attacks, phobias, performance anxiety, complicated grief, disturbing memories, and PTSD.

Today Dr. Shapiro refers to her work as the ADAPTIVE INFORMATION PROCESSING MODEL where EMDR is the INTERVENTION.

WHAT is the Adaptive Information Processing Model? A.I.P. Model hypothesizes:

1.  Humans have an inherent information processing system that generally processes the complex elements of an experience to an adaptive state. In other words, we have the innate capacity to resolve difficult emotional experiences and move forward in our lives. Sometimes this ability gets blocked.

2.     Memories are stored in memory networks and memory networks are linked and organized around the earliest relevant event and it’s associated affect.

3.     Memories are believed to contain related thoughts, images, emotions and sensations. If information related to the distressing event is not fully processed, the initial perception, emotions and distorted thoughts will be stored as they were at the time of the event.

4.     EMDR facilitates the accessing and processing of disturbing memories and bring them to an adaptive resolution and WE HAVE INNATE DRIVE/ABILITY for ADAPTIVE Resolution.


How does EMDR work?  EMDR facilitates the accessing of traumatic or disturbing MEMORY NETWORKS so that information processing is enhanced and new associations are developed between the disturbing memory/experience with more adaptive information.  EMDR uses a protocol to address the past, present and future. PAST EVENTS are targeted that lay the ground work for dysfunction/dysregulation; CURRENT EVENTS that are activating current distress are targeted and internal and external triggers are de-sensitized; FUTURE templates are imagined and newly acquire adaptive information is reinforced.

What are the benefits? After a successful treatment with EMDR you will find

  • Emotional / Affective distress relieved
  • Negative beliefs (core) are re-formulated
  • Psychological arousal is reduced

How do I know if EMDR is right for me?  If you are struggling with distress related to past trauma, have difficulties letting go of disturbing feelings or self-defeating behaviors, or have engaged in previous talk therapy yet seem to still feel "stuck", perhaps you can benefit. I am happy to answer any questions you may have. As with any other treatment, we will have to meet in person so we can fully discuss and assess your concerns.

 © Steffani Brandenburg, LCSW,CASAC,CEAP 2011