Wednesday, March 24, 2010


(Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)

EMDR is a therapy technique specifically designed to assist people in working through and releasing old trauma. It was developed by Francine Shapiro in the 1970s. Shapiro was a therapist working in California with both Vietnam veterans and rape survivors who were experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other negative psychological reactions due to very upsetting or traumatic events that had occurred to them. Simply put, EMDR utilizes a technique to get both sides of the brain firing very strongly at the same time. It works on the theory that when we go through our normal day-to-day life and something mildly or moderately upsetting happens to us, our brain will process it through to the most adaptive or healthy level for us. However, whenever an extremely upsetting event occurs the brain can become overwhelmed and not be able to fully process the incident to the most healthy or adaptive level for us. EMDR utilizes a simple process of getting both the right and left side of the brain firing strongly while the client goes back through their memories and associated thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations related to the traumatic incident. There is also a process for desensitizing the negative thought about themselves that the client developed in response to the traumatic incident and reprocessing the negative self-thought to a more positive self-thought that fits them better today.

I have utilized EMDR successfully here at Sorenson’s Ranch with a number of issues including death of a parent, death of a pet, automobile accidents, sexual abuse, physical abuse, witnessing physical accidents, witnessing domestic violence, and negative issues or patterns that students have been stuck in. EMDR is one of the few evidenced-based practices in psychotherapy. There is a fairly large body of research indicating its success. In addition, EMDR is one of the most quickly effective techniques for making progress on healing traumatic issues. Usually, one to four EMDR sessions are all that is needed to release an old trauma.

Joy Morris, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist

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