EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is an evidenced-based treatment often used to treat trauma, anxiety, and other stress related issues.
Often, when something traumatic happens, it gets locked in the nervous system with the original picture, sounds, thoughts, feelings and smells. Because it’s traumatic, the brain doesn’t process the information as it normally does, and the experience becomes “frozen in time.” As a result, the trauma can be triggered in everyday life, many years after the fact. This can stir up intense feelings connected to the old experience, as if it just happened.
The eye movements (bi-lateral stimulation) we use in EMDR seem to unfreeze the nervous system and allow your brain to process the experience so you can release the intense feelings from it.
During EMDR sessions, you process events and beliefs from the past that are impacting your present and future. Through the process, all you do is share about what you are experiencing as you experience it. There is no way to do EMDR wrong. All that’s required is accurate feedback about what is happening for you during the process. You are always the one in control throughout the sessions.
It’s best to simply notice what comes up, and not judge, criticize or dismiss anything. The experience can be much like putting a puzzle together. We don’t always understand how the pieces fit, but each piece is needed to complete the picture.
One of the beautiful things about EMDR is that it allows healing of trauma without having to re-live it. It allows you to be present as an observer of the original event and feelings, without being an active participant. For some clients, healing is vast and dramatic, soothing pain that could not be addressed through years of talk therapy.
Much of this information is from “Getting Past Your Past” by Francine Shapiro, PhD or www.emdria.org.