What is EMDR?
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy helps people heal from trauma or other distressing life events. It is a research-validated method, millions of people have been successfully treated over the past 25 years. Not everyone will experience ongoing reactions to trauma, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, (PTSD), but when they do it can prevent them from experiencing a full life or create ongoing problems in their lives. EMDR helps individuals safely reprocess traumatic information until it is no longer psychologically disruptive to their lives.
How Does EMDR Work?
EMDR has 8 phases of treatment and in the Rapid Eye Movement phase, the individual focuses on a disruptive memory and identifies the belief they hold about themselves. If it is connected to this negative memory (for example, in dealing with abuse, the person may believe, “I deserved it”) the individual then formulates a positive belief that they would like to have (“I am a worthwhile and good person in control of my life.”). All the sensations and emotions that go along the memory are identified. The individual then reviews the memory while focusing on an external stimulus that creates bilateral eye movement. Typically this is done by watching the therapist move two fingers. After each set of bilateral movements, the individual is asked how they feel. This process continues until the memory is no longer disturbing to the individual. The individual is processing the trauma. The selected positive belief is then installed, via bilateral movement, to replace the negative belief.
Sessions typically last for an hour. It is theorized that EMDR works because the “bilateral stimulation” by-passes the area of the brain that processes memories has become stuck due to the trauma and is preventing the brain from proper processing and storage of the memory. In successful EMDR therapy, the meaning of painful events is transformed on an emotional level. Unlike traditional talk therapy, clients gain insight from their own accelerated intellectual and emotional process and not as much from clinician interpretation.