EMDREye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy
EMDR is based on the premise that when a person is very distressed, the brain is not able to process information as it would normally. Unprocessed emotions are stored in the nervous system, creating maladaptive emotional and physical responses. When an upsetting event occurs, the resulting memories may be so real that they interfere with daily life. This is because the images, feelings, sounds, thoughts, and smells have not been processed, affecting the way we view the world and the way that we relate to other people.
EMDR has an effect on the way that the brain processes information, and facilitates healing of past negative events. In other words – following EMDR, when a previously upsetting event is brought to mind, a person will no longer relive the images, sounds, and feelings from before. Although the event will still be remembered, it will be less upsetting.
The use of EMDR can take one or more sessions to clear out negative material from each targeted memory – memories that are targeted for processing are those which continue to have a negative effect on a person. The number of sessions required for each individual will depend on the specific issue, life circumstances, and the degree of previous trauma experienced.
At the start of treatment, a problem is identified and one of several types of bilateral stimulation (tracking hand movements with the eyes, use of tapping on the knees, or holding a tactile pulser in each hand) is used to process disturbing memories. During EMDR, intense emotions and physical responses may be experienced, however most people report a significant reduction in the level of disturbance at the end of the process.