Using the eyes to treat traumatic stress - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Using the eyes to treat traumatic stress

Bob Howell (Source: KCBD Video) Bob Howell (Source: KCBD Video)

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.

It is not a new technique, but it is gaining popularity in treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or  anyone struggling with the thought of something traumatic that is disrupting their daily life.

EMDR is used to help in treat patients after military combat, rape, sexual trauma, even some who have witnessed a traffic accident and can not shake the images. Other cases may include patients with panic attacks, eating disorders, addictions or anxiety, such as someone with an intense fear of public speaking or dental procedures.

Bob Howell, a licensed hypnotherapist, says this technique literally helps move the memory of a bad experience to another side of the brain where it is less potent.

Bob says, "We know that traumatic memories tend to be repressed or suppressed. And we can see these in CTs or magnetic imagery in the right temporal lobe of the brain. So we know if we can move those memories to the left hemisphere of the brain, that the brain processes the memory differently in a way that is far more healing than the lingering effects of doing nothing."

So how do they get the memories to move? Bob says any bilateral movement of the eyes or hands can fuel the process when facilitated by a trained professional. He says this of the treatment, "It is well researched, scientifically driven and highly successful."

EMDR is controversial among some health care professionals because it does not rely on medication or talk therapy. But Bob says in his practice, he has used EMDR about 2 thousand times and it has proven to be about 90 percent effective.

A session can last up to 90 minutes. Bob says he has seen significant improvement in patients after 1 to 3 sessions.

More than 20,000 practitioners have been trained to use EMDR since psychologist Francine Shapiro developed the technique in 1989.

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