EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. According to the EMDR Institute, EMDR is a “psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences.” It was discovered in the 1980’s when Francine Shapiro noticed it helped her in alleviating the distress she was experiencing due to traumatic memories resurfacing.

EMDR is an evidenced-based treatment which falls under the umbrella of Adaptive Information Processing. Anytime we experience a trauma, information is stored within the brain and cells of the body. We can remember sights, sounds, smells, and body sensations all associated with an event. When these memories are either not processed, or processed maladaptively, people can have an experience in the present, which triggers these memories from the past, keeping the person stuck in a loop of maladaptive thinking, feeling, believing, and behaving. Once the memories are processed, through the use of bilateral stimulation (eye movements, tapping, or sound), the brain is able to reorganize the information, thereby desensitizing the body/mind, and enabling the person to experience the freedom of living in the present moment, unbound by past experiences.

The eye movements used in this treatment are said to create a similar effect to that produced during the REM stage of sleep. The brain re-processes the information, from the very root which created the problem. While it may seem daunting to have to go through memories, EMDR is a structured, safe, effective, evidenced-based therapy. EMDR allows for one to remain fully grounded in the present moment, ensuring the avoidance of additional trauma. And, you don’t have to go into any detail, as the details are not as important as the overall feelings, thoughts, and sensations.

EMDR is especially effective in people who have PTSD and can also be useful for people who have Anxiety, Phobias, Mood Disorders, Sleep Disorders, Grief, Addiction, Low Self Esteem, and Depression. People are generally able to recover physically and emotionally much quicker using EMDR than traditional talk therapy which can take years to process life events verbally.

Resources for more information on EMDR-

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