EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a type of therapy that engages the brain to facilitate the natural healing process. It is a structured, 8-phase therapy that incorporates assessment, treatment planning, resourcing (skills to enhance relaxation, emotional tolerance, and feeling grounded), as well as processing difficult experiences.
Our brain is meant to process information and experiences just as our body is meant to digest food (to use a simple analogy). When we take a bite of food, chew it up and swallow, our bodies digest the food without us even having to think about it. We naturally keep what we need and get rid of what we don't! Our brains are meant to do the same. However, when trauma occurs, natural processing is interrupted in an attempt to help us to survive. It's as if a piece of food gets stuck and never gets into the body to be digested. Although we survive the trauma, the emotions, body sensations, and negative beliefs get stuck and are susceptible to be triggered and re-experienced.
In EMDR therapy, after appropriate preparation and resourcing, a client identifies the aspects of a trauma that got "stuck." Eye movement (or other bilateral or dual-attention stimuli) is added to help the brain naturally "digest" or process the experiences. This results in desensitizing (or letting go of) the disturbance and reprocessing the experiences, to provide relief. Further, we are then able to install an adaptive, positive belief about oneself and experience new, positive feelings and perspectives about the experience.
EMDR has been extensively researched and widely recognized as an effective trauma therapy and evidenced-based treatment for PTSD. EMDR therapy can be used to address a wide array of challenges to include:
Anxiety, panic attacks, and phobias
Attachment and early childhood trauma
Depression and bipolar disorders
Grief and loss
PTSD and other trauma and stress-related issues
Violence and abuse
EMDR should only be administered by an EMDRIA-trained and licensed clinician.