What is EMDR Therapy?
EMDR is a structured therapy that encourages the patient to focus briefly on the trauma memory while simultaneously experiencing bilateral stimulation (typically eye movements), which is associated with a reduction in the vividness and emotion associated with the trauma memories. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an extensively researched, effective psychotherapy method proven to help people recover from trauma and PTSD symptoms. Ongoing research supports positive clinical outcomes showing EMDR therapy as a helpful treatment for disorders such as anxiety, depression, OCD, chronic pain, addictions, and other distressing life experiences (Maxfield, 2019).
EMDR and the Brain
Our brains have a natural way to recover from traumatic memories and events. This process involves communication between the amygdala (the alarm signal for stressful events), the hippocampus (which assists with learning, including memories about safety and danger), and the prefrontal cortex (which analyzes and controls behavior and emotion). While many times traumatic experiences can be managed and resolved spontaneously, they may not be processed without help.
Stress responses are part of our natural fight, flight, or freeze instincts. When distress from a disturbing event remains, the upsetting images, thoughts, and emotions may create an overwhelming feeling of being back in that moment, or of being “frozen in time.” EMDR therapy helps the brain process these memories, and allows normal healing to resume. The experience is still remembered, but the fight, flight, or freeze response from the original event is resolved.
Who Can Benefit from EMDR Therapy?
EMDR therapy helps children and adults of all ages. Therapists use EMDR therapy to address a wide range of challenges:
|Anxiety, panic attacks, and phobias||Performance anxiety|
|Chronic Illness and medical issues||Personality disorders|
|Depression and bipolar disorders||Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) |
and other trauma and stress-related issues
|Dissociative disorders||Sexual assault|
|Eating disorders||Sleep disturbance|
|Grief and loss||Substance abuse and addiction|
|Pain||Violence and abuse|
How is EMDR Different from other Therapies?
EMDR therapy does not require talking in detail about the distressing issue or
completing homework between sessions. EMDR therapy, rather than focusing on changing the emotions, thoughts, or behaviors resulting from the distressing issue, allows the brain to resume its natural healing process.
EMDR therapy is designed to resolve unprocessed traumatic memories in the brain. For many clients, EMDR therapy can be completed in fewer sessions than other
For an overview on experiencing EMDR therapy click here.