Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
Dr. Hosch specializes in the treatment of trauma through the use of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). This is a highly effective technique found to resolve the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with people who have experienced traumatic events in their lives. It is a very safe, effective, and brief solution-focused form of trauma therapy that transforms a person's traumatic experiences and memories to innocuous memories that no longer affect them. It is believed that EMDR activates the brain’s information processing function to reprocess traumatic memories and unresolved grief tied to the original traumatic experience(s) which were never effectively processed. It appears that EMDR motivates the brain to reprocess memories, emotions, sensations, and cognitions associated with the trauma, and to file this information into the proper “folders” of the mind so the person is essentially left with only a factual memory of the originally traumatic event. The person no longer experiences any emotional, psychological, behavioral, sensory, or cognitive responses associated with the trauma. That is to say that the intensity of the trauma diminishes and ultimately disappears, as do any sensory responses (e.g., muscle tension, nausea, racing heart, psychogenic pain, etc.), and any post-traumatic symptomology continuing to affect them. Any faulty, identity-level beliefs imprinted at the time of the trauma (which subconsciously drive the person's emotional and behavioral responses) are also realigned to the truth.
All effects of the trauma, including any related depressive and anxiety disorders, are likely to disappear forever from the person’s experience if the EMDR process is taken to completion. On average, it takes 3-5 EMDR reprocessing sessions to effectively resolve single event traumas for a trauma survivor. However, it may take more or less sessions depending on a few factors. These include the extent of the trauma and how prolific the trauma network is in the person's life, the degree of emotional disconnect the person has established for themselves as a coping strategy to deal with their grief, and how recent or raw the trauma is in the person's life. For example, it will likely take more sessions for someone who has either experienced multiple significant and/or prolific traumas in their life, or who has learned over time to effectively disconnect themselves from their emotions. On the other hand, the more recent and raw the trauma is for the person, and/or the more ready and willing they are to get in touch with their grief, the greater the likelihood is that they will find relief more quickly from EMDR.
EMDR was discovered in 1979 by Dr. Francine Shapiro, and has since become recognized as the most effective form of trauma therapy known today, such that in 2005 the US military recognized EMDR as the most effective methodology for the treatment of combat related stress and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). We only have theories as to why and how EMDR works, but the fact is that it works significantly better than many of the previous forms of treatment used for trauma (e.g., critical incident stress management (CISM), exposure therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy). And unlike some of the previous methods used in the treatment of trauma, the person experiencing EMDR from a qualified practitioner can only get better.
For more information on the use of EMDR in the treatment of PTSD, please check out this interview conducted by Steve Paulson of NPR with Dr. Van Der Kolk, a Dutch psychiatrist and internationally recognized leader in the field of trauma research.