Eye-Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR)
What is EMDR Therapy?
EMDR is an evidence-based trauma treatment that is different from talk therapy.
Traditionally, talk therapy is the main way of helping us make sense of the situations we are in. In more recent times, research has shown that trauma affects different parts of the brain, including areas that are not accessed by talking. In other words, talk therapy alone is not sufficient for treating trauma.
EMDR involves bringing up a disturbing memory while engaging in specific eye movements (called “Bilateral Stimulation”) to decrease the level of distress. You are asked to simply notice any thoughts, images, feelings and body sensations that may come up as your brain processes these memories.
For those who might be less comfortable with talking about their traumatic memories, EMDR allows you to work on your trauma without talking through all the details.
Theory behind EMDR:
Normally, our brain has the natural ability to handle and make sense of challenging situations. However, there are times when a traumatic event overwhelms our ability to process the information, likely due to the intense negative emotions that come up.
These memories become “stuck” in our brain and continue to show up in the present as if it is still happening (through triggers, flashbacks, “over-reactions”, physical symptoms, or repeating relational patterns).
EMDR allows you to go back to the traumatic memory and process it in a way that is no longer disturbing to you. Individuals who have completed EMDR often describe it as being able to remember the event but without the emotional distress, and that they are no longer triggered by their memories in the present.
What issues can EMDR be used for?
While EMDR was originally created as a treatment for trauma, it has since been adapted for a variety of issues including:
- Stress Reduction
- Panic Attacks
- Disturbing Memories
- Complicated Grief
- Chronic Pain Conditions
Research behind EMDR:
EMDR is an evidence-based treatment that is recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an effective treatment for trauma.