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Sheila Hirsch LCSW

EMDR is a scientifically researched and empirically proven form of therapy to treat Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other less severe traumas that have occurred in your life, from a car accident, to a medical proceedure that was traumatic, to upsetting family dynamics, to abuse.   This therapy has also proved helpful in other mental health areas, such as anxiety and depression, recently.  It was discovered and developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro, Psychologist, in the late 1980s. and has grown in success and use since that time.

We know that when a person is very upset, their brain is unable to process information as it ordinarily does.  One moment becomes "frozen in time" and remembering a trauma may be as emotionally difficult as going through it the first time.  The images, sounds, smells and feelings of the traumatic event often haven't changed with time.  These memories have a lasting negative effect that interferes with the way a person perceives and interacts with the world.  Successful EMDR treatment helps you to resume processing information normally, no longer reliving the fearful images, sounds, perceptions and feelings.  You will still remember what had occurred, but the memory will be far less upsetting.

Initially it is important to gather a detailed history and determine if EMDR is the appropriate treatment modality for you.  A typical EMDR session lasts from 60 to 90 minutes. Once the disturbing issue or event is identified, along with the feelings and beliefs associated with the issue or event, processing will begin.  Some type of bi-lateral stimulation (stimulating both sides of the brain) will be used, such as, directional movement of the eyes.  While the bi-lateral stimulation occurs, you will be directed to focus on the disturbing material discussed.  Your job will be to notice what comes to mind, without effort to control direction or content.  This process will continue until the memory becomes less disturbing.

If you would like to research EMDR further, I recommend the website www.emdr.com.

There are many therapists in the Sacramento area that use EMDR to help clients process through trauma.