Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) & Grief
Beth has found in her clinical practice that EMDR is often highly effective in healing traumatic aspects of a loss, such as reducing intrusive, distressing images or other sensory memories of the departed loved one’s illness, accident, or suffering.
What is EMDR?
EMDR is a therapy that is designed to help people heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences by activating the client’s own natural healing. EMDR has been accepted as a therapy for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and is a recommended treatment for trauma in the Practice Guidelines of the American Psychiatric Association, the Department of Veterans Affairs and Defense, SAMSHA, the International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies, and the World Health Organization. However, EMDR is considered an experimental therapy for all other indications, based on the current state of the published research on EMDR.
EMDR can specifically help many bereaved persons by reducing traumatic images or symptoms, while simultaneously increasing the ability of the bereaved to recall positive memories of the deceased. Sometimes, the bereaved are unable to recall the positive memories of the deceased because of the persistent intrusive traumatic images and thoughts that surround the loss. In her study, Sprang (2001) showed that anxiety and traumatic stress in the bereaved decreased significantly during the course of EMDR treatment. In addition, the bereaved may avoid certain places or people that remind them of the deceased, thus affecting their ability to be social or engaged in support systems with people who bring meaningful relationships. EMDR can help to remove some of these obstacles that keep the bereaved from going through the mourning process; EMDR can then also help form a new relationship with the deceased, while also learning how to live a fulfilling life in a world without the physical presence of the deceased.
If you have suffered the loss of someone, I am committed to helping support you through the grieving process and work with you to find more peace and fulfillment in your life.
Sprang, G. (2001). The use of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) in the treatment of traumatic stress and complicated mourning: Psychological and behavioral outcomes. Research on Social Work Practice, 11, 300-320.
More about EMDR
EMDR is an evidence-based therapeutic modality. To read more about EMDR or research supporting the efficacy of EMDR, please visit the website below. The description below is an excerpt from the website of the EMDR Institute, Inc. (2011).
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences. Repeated studies show that by using EMDR people can experience the benefits of psychotherapy that once took years to make a difference. It is widely assumed that severe emotional pain requires a long time to heal. EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma. When you cut your hand, your body works to close the wound. If a foreign object or repeated injury irritates the wound, it festers and causes pain. Once the block is removed, healing resumes. EMDR therapy demonstrates that a similar sequence of events occurs with mental processes. The brain’s information processing system naturally moves toward mental health. If the system is blocked or imbalanced by the impact of a disturbing event, the emotional wound festers and can causes intense suffering. Once the block is removed, healing resumes. Using the detailed protocols and procedures learned in EMDR training sessions, clinicians help clients activate their natural healing processes.