Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is an evidence-based therapy that helps people address various mental health and psychological issues.
EMDR is based on the idea that traumatic memories become stored in our brains differently than non-traumatic memories, leaving the individual with persistent negative symptoms. The therapist addresses it by boosting bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements, to reprocess the memories.
During an EMDR session, the client identifies a traumatic event and then discusses or re-lives it while focusing on recommended bilateral stimulation techniques.
EMDR also treats anxiety and stress caused by fears, phobias, or other distressing events. During this session, the client identifies the triggering event, constructs a positive thought regarding the event, and then focuses on a set of bilateral stimulation techniques.
Studies suggest that EMDR can positively affect the brain by activating or deactivating distinct neural networks that store and process traumatic memories.
EMDR is a safe and effective way of treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), although it should not be the only treatment used. Research suggests that EMDR effectively reduces PTSD symptoms and can improve the overall quality of life in individuals with PTSD.
In addition to PTSD, EMDR has also been used to treat specific phobias, anxiety disorders, panic attacks, grief, and depression. It also helps people deal with life's daily stressors.
EMDR is not a "quick fix" but rather a gradual process that works to reprocess difficult memories and emotions. It may take several sessions to see results, and some people may require more than one treatment to address their issues best.
EMDR techniques have been adapted to treat children. This type of treatment is often combined with other approaches, such as art therapy or play therapy, to create an experience that is more comfortable and familiar for the child.
EMDR is offered in both individual and group settings. The therapist may lead the group in a guided imagery session designed to evoke powerful emotions and activate the unconscious mind for processing when conducted in a group setting.
Since EMDR does not require members to talk about the traumatic event in detail, it can be an effective tool for people who experience difficulty talking about their traumatic experiences.