What is EMDR Therapy?
EMDR (or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy) was originally developed to treat PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). It is endorsed by Veterans Affairs as one of the most effective ways to treat trauma.
However, more and more research shows that this therapy is very effective for treating many, many different kinds of mental health struggles.
The basic idea is that when we have negative life experiences of any kind, whether it be interpersonal conflicts, bullying in school, parents divorcing, or severe trauma like a car accident, any type of abuse, or the witnessing of atrocities, our brain and body make certain connections that may serve us in the moment, but do not serve us in the long term.
As a result, our negative life experiences and reactions to them can then follow us through relationships, our career journey, our parenting experiences, and many other areas of life, being continuously triggered, even if we are not necessarily aware from where our reactions stem.
EMDR makes it possible to reprocess and let go of the negative experiences we have stored in our mind and body. It can give us new insights to help us move beyond.
Our brains and bodies are designed to heal, but sometimes they need a little push. In EMDR, we follow a specific procedure to identify unhelpful negative beliefs we hold about ourselves and the world around us, identify emotions and body sensations resulting from this, and then reprocess these using Bilateral Stimulation (though eye movements, tapping, alternating vibrations, or other means).
Through reprocessing, people often report feeling more at peace, find new ways to see themselves in the world, or are able to forgive what happened.
Still, EMDR can be a very emotional process. Crying during EMDR is normal, as are temporary increases in anxiety or depressive symptoms; In a way, reprocessing is like temporarily walking through a dark forest, with an expert guide (your therapist) by your side, with the goal of eventually exiting the dark forest and ending in an open meadow where you can breathe freely and think clearly.
You can find more information on EMDR on the following websites: