“The past affects the present even without our being aware of it.”
Dr. Francine Shapiro, founder of EMDR Therapy
What does EMDR stand for?
Eye Movement – The goal is to engage both hemispheres of the brain while bringing up the disturbing memories. Initially, this was done by following the therapist’s fingers as they moved them back and forth across the client’s field of vision. Now, this bilateral stimulation is accomplished in a variety of ways: eye movements, alternating tapping on knees or arms, handheld buzzers or listening to alternating tones, to name a few.
Desensitization – This is the process of reducing the amount of emotional charge associated with an upsetting memory or experience. When we experience trauma or other overwhelming life experiences, the experience can, in essence, get stuck in our body/mind and is then replayed when our nervous system detects any reminders of the event. This usually occurs unconsciously and may show up as anxiety, anger, or other problematic symptoms.
Reprocessing – The process of replacing the negative or unhealthy beliefs that were formed as a result of the traumatic or overwhelming experience and allowing more adaptive, positive beliefs to take the place. During this part of treatment, clients are able, in a way, to revise their experience. This doesn’t mean changing the facts of what happened, but changing the beliefs and emotional learning around the event.
How does EMDR work?
- The human brain, much like the human body, naturally moves toward wellness. Imagine you have a cut on your arm; with a little attention after the injury, your body will heal itself. However, some injuries need more specialized attention to help your body to heal itself. Similarly, some overwhelming experiences need more specialized care to allow the brain to do the healing that it naturally is inclined to do. To restore wellness. During this process, the memory networks connected to the trauma or overwhelming experience are reconnected to the resource networks that support strength, resiliency and healing.