Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a comprehensive approach to psychotherapy, originally developed by Francine Shapiro, a Senior Research Fellow at the Mental Research Institute in Palo Alto, California in 1987. EMDR has been clinically proven to accelerate the treatment of a wide range of problems and self-esteem issues related both to disturbing past traumatic events and present life conditions. This interactive approach has been empirically tested with clients who have experienced a broad range of disturbing life experiences, including accidents, loss of a job or a loved one, rape, sexual molestation, exposure to combat and natural disasters. EMDR offers a reprocessing of disturbing life experiences resulting in a significant reduction or elimination of symptoms such as emotional distress, intrusive thoughts, flashbacks and nightmares. EMDR is also used to treat relationship problems and self-esteem issues as well as anxiety, depression, complicated grief reactions and phobias. It can also alleviate performance anxiety at work, on the playing field and in the performing arts.
EMDR psychotherapy uses elements of psychodynamic, cognitive behavioral, interpersonal, experiential, and body-centered therapies, using structured protocols to target past experiences and current situational triggers that engage dysfunctional beliefs and emotions. By reprocessing disturbing life experiences, clients are able to implement sustainable solutions, which result in lasting change. Additionally, they are able to create healthy relationships in which they are able to connect in more authentic ways.
The significance of the human-animal bond has garnered not only clinical, but research interest. Research has indicated that our connection with animals, particularly dogs, is historical, neurobiological, social and emotional. Research has shown strong evidence that therapy dogs are helpful for multiple populations in a variety of contexts. Using pets in therapy has been shown to reduce stress, increase rapport, help clients to become more cognizant of emotional reactions and support resiliency in individual and group sessions (Perry, Rubinstein & Austin, 2012).