What is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)?
Put very simply, EMDR uses bilateral stimulation (eye movements, tactile, or auditory tones) to process disturbing or distressing memories, especially trauma, using a specific protocol. It essentially helps to “re-program” the brain. The process creates a shift in perspective about the experience, world and/or self that is more realistic.
Most memories you can look back on with a neutral or no reaction. However, when something stressful or traumatic occurs, the brain stores that information along with the images, thoughts, feelings, sensations, etc. associated with that memory. So, anytime you get a reminder of that experience, you may react as if it’s actually happening all over again. Even have those same thoughts, feelings, sensations. The memory gets locked up in the brain that way, and you are unable to access the part of the brain that allows to problem solve in your every day life. EMDR helps to unblock the memory network and allows it to link up with your problem-solving brain. That way, when you get a reminder (trigger), your brain can use your cognitive abilities to process that information. Thus, you will no longer react to that previous stressful/traumatic memory the same way.
How can you benefit from EMDR?
One significant benefit that happens with EMDR is changing negative beliefs about yourself that have developed over time or from specific incidents. For example, “I’m not good enough,” “I don’t matter,” “It’s my fault,” “I’m broken,” “I’m weak,” etc. are common beliefs that develop. Additionally, your “triggers” are no longer triggering for you. After EMDR is complete, most people can reflect on those traumatic or stressful memories without feeling overwhelmed or disturbed as they have in the past. The memory doesn’t disappear, it’s still there. It just doesn’t feel as emotionally intense to think about. Many clients describe those memories afterward as, “Yeah, that’s bad that it happened, but when I think of it, it’s doesn’t bother me so much anymore.”
If you have more questions, want to learn more or are interested in this type of treatment, contact me today to set up a consultation appointment!
Below is video of a PSA regarding EMDR treatment:
For additional information, visit the Eye Movement and Desensitization International Association (EMDRIA) website: