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How Did Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Become so Popular in 2023?

For those seeking relief from symptoms like anxiety, depression, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), there are a handful of established therapies that can help. One treatment called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR, has become popular among clients and their therapists.
In this article, we’ll cover what EMDR is, what it can treat, why it’s becoming so popular, and how you can find an EMDR therapist in Oak Brook, Naperville, or downtown Chicago.

What is EMDR?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a safe and effective form of therapy. It was first developed in 1987 by Dr. Francine Shapiro and has become a widely available form of therapy. With over 60,000 EMDR-certified therapists in the U.S., it’s also increasingly easy to find. In recent years, EMDR has gotten more media attention. Prince Harry and Sandra Bullock have both said that they’ve undergone EMDR therapy. Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk, author of the bestseller The Body Keeps the Score, says “The speed at which change occurs during EMDR contradicts the traditional notion of time as essential for psychological healing.” Because EMDR can work very quickly, many people are seeking it in therapy.

How was EMDR Discovered or Developed?

In 1987, Dr. Francine Shapiro was walking along a path in a park. She noticed that as her eyes darted from side to side to look at different parts of her environment, she felt better. Based on this personal insight, Shapiro began to wonder if there was therapeutic potential there.
Soon after, she began experimenting with herself and her clients to develop Eye Movement Desensitization (EMD). Later as her studies grew, she added the “R” which stands for “Reprocessing” to create EMDR.
Though EMDR has been around since 1987, it is still seen by some as under-studied. Traditional forms of therapy like talk therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) have been studied in more depth, and some practitioners can resist adopting new forms of therapy like EMDR.

How Does EMDR Work? What Can You Expect?

EMDR helps to integrate both sides of your brain with what’s called Bilateral Stimulation. As an example, your EMDR therapist may have a client cross their arms over their chest and tap each side with their fingers rhythmically. Or, a therapist might have the client follow the therapists fingers with their eyes as the therapist moves them left to right.
Bilateral Stimulation helps integrate the two sides of your brain and gives you something external to focus on as you process your emotions. This safeguards against becoming overwhelmed, which has helped EMDR become so popular.

Here are more facts and figures about EMDR

By the end of 3 sessions, most patients report symptom relief. The old triggering memory is “in a degraded form. It’s not quite as emotionally evocative” says one EMDR therapist. With fewer flashbacks and intrusive thoughts, patients have more bandwidth to enjoy their lives.

Why is EMDR so Popular?

In addition to being a very helpful form of therapy for millions of people, EMDR has spread in popular culture. As mentioned above, celebrities like Prince Harry and Sandra Bullock have benefitted from EMDR therapy sessions. Furthermore, EMDR has become so popular because so many people are seeking relief from stress and traumatic memories. As people become more aware of stress, trauma, and healthier ways to live and be, they start to seek relief for themselves.
Lastly, EMDR is popular because it’s quick and efficient. Whereas in talk therapy a person might spend months or years working through certain challenges, EMDR can provide results very quickly. Most people see results in as few as 3 sessions. Additionally, there are no homework assignments like journaling or paper writing in between sessions. That’s because in EMDR, a person doesn’t need to talk or write about their experiences to process them. Due to EMDR’s ability to affect the memory processing centers of the brain, it can aid in therapy relatively fast and with minimal effort by the patient.

Symptoms EMDR Therapy Can Treat

  • Grief and loss
  • Difficulty trusting others
  • Flashbacks
  • Excessive guilt
  • Excessive anger
  • Performance anxiety Personality disorders
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Sexual assault
  • Sleep disturbance, Insomnia, or Night Terrors
  • Substance abuse and addiction
  • Traumatic labor and delivery
  • Traumatic Memories
  • Unexplained bodily tension
  • Unexplained body aches

What is the Success Rate of EMDR Therapy?

There is no specific timeline for EMDR Therapy, and everyone’s journey is different. Timelines should be established with the therapist and their client. With that said, EMDR Therapy can be highly effective. In fact, several authoritative institutions have recommended it for treatment. Among them are the American Psychological Association (APA), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the U.K.’s National Institutes of Clinical Excellence (NICE).

The Bottom Line

With results like these, it’s easy to see why people have made EMDR become so popular. And as the body of research grows, EMDR shows promise for becoming the #1 treatment recommendation for a variety of symptoms. For those seeking relief in Oak Brook, Naperville, downtown Chicago, or nearby areas, our EMDR-certified therapists are available to help. We offer telehealth services for those in Illinois as well. Contact us today to get started on your healing journey.

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Taylor Carter

Taylor Carter is a dynamic Senior Marketing Manager with a passion for crafting compelling narratives and driving impactful campaigns. She has been an integral part of the Hopemark Health team for the past two years. By combining industry insights and medical facts with a deep understanding of the patient experience, Taylor continuously seeks to uplift and empower individuals on their journey to well-being.

Article by: Taylor Carter