Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, more commonly referred to as EMDR, is a trending therapeutic modality that is known to decrease the symptoms of trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Through eye movements, rhythmic tapping, light or audio stimulation, the client experiences a phenomenon called bilateral stimulation. What this stimulation does is allows both the emotional hemisphere of the brain, as well as the rational/processing hemisphere of the brain to be activated at the same time. Then, through narrating past experiences while stimulated, clients are able to change the relationship that they have with those memories and decrease the emotional reactions associated with those events.
Is EDMR an Effective Treatment?
While EMDR is highly effective in treating trauma, I have also found it works exceptionally well for clients living with anxiety. Once past memories have been reprocessed, the client is able to respond to individual stressors as they are experienced, rather than responding with unprocessed memories that are anxiety-provoking. Another way that I have heard EMDR described is that it allows the individual to recall memories with all of the knowledge, wisdom, and lived experiences that they have as their current self; almost as if they’re able to go back and talk to past versions of themselves.
Something that we think is important to remember is that EMDR doesn’t take away from the experiences that an individual has encountered. It can not change the past or take away special memories. Rather, it gives the client an opportunity to embrace the power within themselves to take control of their emotions and promote healing on their journey towards mental wellness.