EMDR: Help for work-related difficulties, performance enhancement, or processing traumatic experiences

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) was discovered psychologist Francine Shapiro 1987 and initially developed to work with trauma survivors. Today, we know that EMDR has helped many people who are struggling with a variety of issues. It has proven to be extremely effective in reducing anxiety for those who work in high-stress corporate world or in the performing arts.

One leading researcher and performance-enhancement psychologist, Sandra Foster, says that EMDR sessions have shown stunning results. A sales manager overcame a paralysis he felt about making phone calls to prospective clients. A business executive conquered a fear of public speaking. A director of a new computer company confronted fears of dealing with shareholders.

The procedure is simple. After a thorough assessment, the memory of a distressful event is targeted. During EMDR, the client attends to a disturbing event while simultaneously focusing an external stimulus. Therapist-directed lateral eye movements are most commonly used external stimulus, although hand-tapping and auditory stimulation are also used. The client is instructed to notice any thoughts, feelings or images that arise during the sequence. Usually, this new material becomes the focus of the next sequence. As the processing continues, the client begins to make associations to more adaptive material, which becomes integrated with the traumatic memories, resulting in the resolution of the distress associated with the historical event and restructuring of related beliefs.

Clients sometimes report that before EMDR, the distressing memory was like a video with sounds and sensations. After the sessions, the memory became like a black and white photograph.

For more information on EMDR, go to www.emdr.com or www.emdrcanada.org