Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy is an amazing type of therapy that helps people recover and heal from traumatic and other very distressing life experiences. Our brains have a natural way to recover from traumatic memories and events but sometimes experiences don’t process properly on their own. EMDR therapy is a way of helping the brain utilize that natural healing process and resolve past events so they are no longer bothersome or getting in the way of healthy functioning.
EMDR was discovered in the late 1980’s by an amazing Psychologist named Dr. Francine Shapiro. Since being introduced in 1989 EMDR has become the most researched and the most effective trauma therapy. It is based on the idea that negative thoughts, feelings and behaviors are the result of unprocessed traumatic and disturbing memories. Stress responses are part of our natural fight, flight, or freeze instincts. When distress from a disturbing event remains, the upsetting images, thoughts, and emotions may create feelings of overwhelm, or being back in the moment, or of being “frozen in time.” EMDR therapy helps the brain process these memories and allows normal healing to resume. The experience is still remembered, but the fight, flight, or freeze response from the original event is resolved.
Another nice aspect of EMDR therapy compared to other types of trauma therapy is that it doesn’t require talking in detail about traumatic or distressing events in order to reprocess them. Some disclosure and discussion are necessary to activate the memory networks, but the more personal details can remain just that, personal and need not be said out loud or disclosed to the therapist.