EMDR is an evidenced based therapeutic approach that was developed to alleviate distress associated with traumatic memories. EMDR is an eight phase treatment. Eye movements (or other bilateral stimulation) are used. During eye movement phase the client will hold several aspects together: the target memory, emotions, beliefs, and physiological or sensory sensations together. It is believed that the bilateral movement of the eyes is like the biological mechanism involved in Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. The underlying premise is that negative experiences impact our brain and nervous system. These disturbing events can be single “Big T “ trauma or “little t”, repeated events. These are events that overwhelm the nervous system, may be unprocessed and stored in maladaptive ways. Images, sounds, smells, and/or physical sensations can become triggers in new situations. Negative beliefs about ourselves, others, and the world from these events also become stored and can be a trigger for ongoing mood dis-regulation. These negative beliefs, such as “I am not good enough”, “I am not safe” keep keep you stuck, and are carried into new experiences. They also impact our relationships.
In a successful EMDR session, affective distress is alleviated, negative beliefs are reformulated, and physiological arousal is reduced, and the meaning of painful events are transformed on an emotional level. Through out therapy the client is empowered by their experiences and are more resilient to future stresses. Unlike talk therapy, the insights clients gain in EMDR therapy result not so much from clinician interpretation, but from the client’s own accelerated intellectual and emotional processes. EMDR utilizes specific processes and protocols that create more adaptive beliefs as past, present experiences are integrated, creating more resiliency into the future. Other types of approaches and education can be used in adjunct and in preparation for EMDR.