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eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing

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A form of psychotherapy designed originally for treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and sometimes applied to other anxiety disorders. When it is applied to PTSD, the client or patient is first asked to visualize or recall the traumatic experience as vividly as possible and to provide a verbal statement, such as I feel as if I'm about to die, epitomizing its psychological impact. The client then rates the experienced level of anxiety on a 0–10 scale of Subjective Units of Distress (SUDs) and provides a competing positive statement epitomizing a desired response to the imagined situation, such as I can survive, and a rating of degree of belief in this statement, on a 0–8 scale of Validity of Cognition. Following these preparatory steps, the client focuses visual attention on an object and tracks its movements as the therapist sweeps it rhythmically back and forth in groups of 12 to 24 side-to-side movements in front of the client's face, at a rate of approximately two strokes per second. After each group of strokes, the client is asked to blank out the visual image or memory, to inhale deeply, and to revise the SUD and Validity of Cognition ratings, and this process continues until the SUD rating falls below 2 and the Validity of Cognition rating rises above 6. The technique was developed in 1987 and introduced in 1989 by the US psychologist Francine Shapiro (born 1948), who discovered fortuitously that back-and-forth eye movements reduced her own anxiety. EMDR abbrev.

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