EMDR as a brain-based approach
Mark Grant MA
Since the beginning of the 20th century clinicians and lay-people increasingly consider different treatment modalities in terms of their congruence with and effects on brain functioning. Although it is early days, the aim is to apply treatment interventions in a more targeted and hopefully more effective way. Because of its lack of fit with traditional models, EMDR was one of the first treatments of the modern era to be considered in neurological terms and continues to attract a lot of attention in this regard. In this brief review EMDR consultant Mark Grant will review the neurobiological foundations of EMDR in terms of top-down vs bottom-up models, research findings regarding the methods effects on brain structure and functioning and implications for practice.
• Neurobiological theories of trauma and pain
• ‘Top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ approaches
• Neurobiological foundations of EMDR
• Research review
• Implications for practice
1. Learn 2 neurobiological theories of trauma and pain
2. Be able to distinguish between several bottom-up and top-down treatments
3. Identify the differing therapeutic goals of top-down vs bottom-up approaches
4. Understand neurobiological foundations of EMDR
5. Understand the practical implications of understanding neurobiological aspects of
EMDR for clinical practice
Bergmann, U (2010) EMDR’s Neurobiological mechanisms of action: a survey of 20 years of searching. Journal of EMDR practice and research, 4(1), 22-24.
Mark Grant (MA) is a clinical psychologist with 30 years’ experience in the treatment of stress, trauma, and pain. Mark works from a ‘first principles’ approach meaning one that is based as much as possible on an informed understanding of how the human nervous system works, (Porges ‘deep physiology’) and how experiences such as pain are learned. Neuroplasticity tells us that pain can be unlearned, under the right conditions. The challenge is to know what those conditions are and how to create them for each individual. Mark’s approach is influenced by the work of Pierre Janet, Francine Shapiro, Milton Erickson and Michael White, his own research and experience, and an innate curiosity about and desire to help people. After many years working out of a large, multi-disciplinary Medical Centre, Mark now works in private practice in Melbourne, Australia. He is also an EMDR consultant and past chairman of the EMDR Association of Australia. When not working he enjoys travel, playing with his grandchildren and being in nature with his wife Ana.
- Mark’s research (6 papers) regarding EMDR in the treatment of chronic pain has been published in various peer-reviewed journals including the Journal of Clinical and Consulting Psychology.
- He is the author of ‘Change Your Brain Change Your Pain’ (self-help book) and ‘Pain Control with EMDR’ (treatment manual)
- He is also the creator of the ‘Healing traumatic stress suite of apps’ (www.traumaapps.com).
- His Anxiety Release app resulted in the first published account of an app helping to alleviate the somatic component of chronic pain.
- He has been active for many years in professional development including numerous presentations regarding stress and pain at workshops and conferences in Australia and internationally.
- His ideas about pain have been cited in the New York Times.