EYE MOVEMENT DESENSITIZATION AND REPROCESSING (EMDR)
What is EMDR?
EMDR is an evidence-based approach used to help people heal from trauma or other adverse life experiences. Using bilateral stimulation, EMDR helps reprocess traumatic memories, which alleviates emotional and psychological symptoms in response to the event(s).
Trauma and the Brain
Much like a filing cabinet, our brains have an inherent information processing system to help us store every single bit of information we have gathered as we go about our day. When we experience a trauma or adverse event, our brains don’t know how to process or store this information due to high arousal, so the memories are encoded (or filed away) as survival information, creating distress responses when we encounter triggers either related or unrelated to the trauma.
Common responses to triggered memories
Negative perceptions of self
Trouble sleeping or nightmares
Feeling jumpy or easily startled
How does EMDR work?
Research has found that certain eye movements, or other forms of bilateral stimulation, have reduced the intensity of disturbing thoughts related to traumatic or adverse events. During EMDR, the stuck memories are stimulated and then connected to other information in our brains so that the memory can be encoded as an event that occurred in the past, and therefore can no longer hurt us. It also strengthens our ability to reframe our thoughts associated with the traumatic/adverse memory, which further reduces our distress response to memories of the event(s).