EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is an integrative psychotherapeutic approach that has been widely studied and is considered one of the most effective in the treatment of psychological trauma. It is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on memories of traumatic and/or stressful experiences that contribute to mental disorders and psychological problems, and that allows people to quickly heal from symptoms and emotional discomfort. The acronym EMDR indicates the use of bilateral ocular movements, capable of completing a pathologically interrupted neurophysiological process. Repeated studies have shown that by using EMDR people reach in a shorter period a condition of well-being that usually took years of therapy to be reached. EMDR Psychotherapy employs a structured protocol aiming at the reworking of memories of past experiences, together with the emotions, beliefs, somatic feelings associated with them and which are no longer functional for the wellbeing of the individual and that are retriggered in the present, and each time reactivated. In psychotherapy EMDR the pathology and emotional difficulties are seen as the outcome of the unprocessed memories that remain stored in the same form in which the first times were experienced. In this sense, the past is present.
The AIP model-New perspective for psychopathology
The theoretical-conceptual framework of EMDR therapy is the adaptive Information Processing, AIP (Shapiro 1995, 2001, 2006) explaining how the brain possesses an innate experience processing system that can assimilate new information into neural networks Between them integrated and with the rest of the networks present. The ocular movements used within the psychotherapeutic treatment with EMDR are able to restart the innate processing system and lead to a rapid resolution of the psychological traumas. We all possess a self-healing system. We see its general operation:
- Each event links to existing networks; For example, the understanding of this article is possible because you have already experienced the written language; If you burned a hand on the fire, this information end in a network concerning the flames and the danger associated with them; A clash with a classmate and his resolution, Fomerebbero networks concerning interpersonal relationships and conflict management, and so on..
- When the system is working properly, each experience is processed and connected to the rest of the information.
- When a negative event shakes the system, it can happen that the processing and integration of information is blocked. The memory of the experience remains stored in its original form: thoughts, somatic sensations, emotions and images remain frozen over time, without integrating with other networks where there is adaptive information able to make understand Experience in positive sign.
- When a memory is stored in a excitatory, stressful and state-specific form, a variety of internal or external stimuli can trigger it (triggers), resulting in dysfunctional emotional, cognitive, and behavioral reactions (e.g. anxiety High, nightmares, phobias, intrusive thoughts).
Memories stored in dysfunctional, unresolved form are the basis of the future psychopathology because the perception of the stimulus situation is immediately associated with the memory networks, generating the symptoms and the discomfort. The pathological traits of personality are also the result of unprocessed memories, for example the dysfunctional belief “I’m not good, I’m not lovable” is often linked to the presence of unprocessed memories that have to do with experiences where, Usually in childhood, the person has experienced situations of devaluation or refusal, or a relational trauma. We can distinguish psychological traumas in capital T traumas and traumas with lowercase t.
Trauma with capital T
Any event that poses a threat to the life and physical integrity of an individual is a trauma to the T. A violent aggression, a robbery, but also a traffic accident or be involved in a natural disaster (earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, etc.). The person experiences the risk of life and the perception of impotence. Even witnessing a violence towards another person, especially if dear to us, represents a trauma. Example are all children exposed to assisted violence, that is, lived in family environments where one parent mistreated the other. Physical and/or sexual abuse, especially if perpetrated in childhood and emotional reference figures, has an even more serious impact as they add to the traumatic potential of trauma T and T.
Trauma with lowercase t
Traumas with lowercase t are relational experiences, typically occurring in childhood/adolescent times, and affecting in a negative way the construction of the identity schemes of the person. To be exposed to an unstable/unpredictable family environment, to an emotionally distant parent, or to emotional abuse, such as humiliation, rejection, excessive or unjustified reproach; Each of these examples represent relational traumas, which, although smaller in size than those with capital T, are often repeated over time and affect the development of the entire child’s meanings system.
The efficacy of EMDR in the treatment of trauma is recognized worldwide. The EMDR has in fact been judged effective by the World Health Organization, the United States Department of Defense and the major guidelines for clinical practice and excellence at the international level.
This therapy is also effective in treating the myriad of problems that every day bring people into therapy, such as low self-esteem, sense of impotence, anxiety or depression. To date, the EMDR has helped millions of people of all ages to get rid of many types of psychological stress, and many victims of disastrous events such as the attack on the Twin towers, but also victims of tsunamis, earthquakes, violence and aggression.
Who can do EMDR psychotherapy?
The therapists who practise the EMDR are all mental health professionals, psychotherapists, who have received a certified training and approved by one of the EMDR associations qualified to offer the training according to quality standards guaranteed in All over the world. In fact, the use of eye movements can lead to the emergence of memories, emotions and conditions that only the intervention of a properly trained expert can manage and solve effectively and safely.