Are you having a difficult time recovering from traumatic memories, coping with depression, anxiety and other types of issues? If so Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy could be the help you need. To help understand what Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy is and how it can help you, I have interviewed therapist Dr. Jill Zimmerman.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I have been in private practice at Integra Counseling Services, Inc. in Hudson, WI since 1994. I was the director of a domestic abuse shelter and executive director at a nonprofit agency-serving children from chemical-abusing families prior to this. In addition, I am a facilitator with the EMDR Institute and an EMDRIA Approved Consultant. My doctorate is in Human Services with a Master’s in Counseling and Guidance.”
Can you tell me what Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is?
“Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an integrative psychotherapy approach. EMDR integrates many of the successful elements of a range of therapeutic approaches in combination with eye movements or other forms of bilateral stimulation (such as hand tapping or audio stimulation). Once it has been determined which traumatic memory to target first, therapists ask their clients to hold different aspects of that event or thought in mind while tracking the therapists’ fingers with their
eyes as they move back and forth across their fields of vision. This is all performed within an 8-phase protocol that counselors learn by attending EMDR trainings. Only licensed clinicians specifically trained in EMDR should use eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.”
What types of issues can Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing help someone with?
“EMDR was developed as a treatment for traumatic memories, and research has demonstrated its effectiveness in the treatment of PTSD. Some preliminary investigations have indicated that EMDR might be helpful with other disorders and clinicians report anecdotal information that EMDR is effective in the treatment of, for example, phobias, addictions, anxiety, performance enhancement, panic attacks, depression, etc..”
What is an Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing experience like?
“After EMDR processing clients generally report that the emotional distress related to the memory has been eliminated, or greatly decreased, and that they have gained important cognitive insights. More importantly, these emotional and cognitive changes usually result in spontaneous behavioral and personal change; that is, your feelings seem more integrated with your thoughts leading to new reactions/changed behaviors.”
Does a client need other forms of therapy or medication to help enhance the benefits of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing?
“EMDR is just part of a therapist’s treatment plan with a particular client so many forms of therapy may be utilized during the client’s time in counseling. Prescribing medication may be another option utilized to help a client. It has been found though that some medications can hinder EMDR from working as quickly as it might have had the person not been on the medication. Speed obviously should not be an issue when considering client safety. For example, a client not at risk for suicide might decide under a physician’s care to wean off their medication before using EMDR to get the maximum effect whereas another person needs to stay on medication while getting relief via EMDR. When they are feeling more stable, they can then remove their medication and, if any issues resurface, return to EMDR.”
Thank you, Dr. Zimmerman, for doing the interview on Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. For more information on Dr. Zimmerman or her work you can check out her web site on www.integracounselingservices.com.
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