Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

What is it?

EMDR is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences. EMDR facilitates the accessing and processing of traumatic memories and other adverse life experience to bring these to an adaptive resolution.

How does it work?

If the information related to a distressing or traumatic experience is not fully processed, the initial perceptions, emotions, and distorted thoughts will be stored as they were experienced at the time of the event. Shapiro argues that such unprocessed experiences become the basis of current dysfunctional reactions and are the cause of many mental disorders. She proposes that EMDR successfully alleviates mental disorders by processing the components of the distressing memory. These effects are thought to occur when the targeted memory is linked with other more adaptive information. When this occurs, learning takes place, and the experience is stored with appropriate emotions able to guide the person in the future.

What should I expect?

The goal of EMDR therapy is transformation of the meaning of painful events on an emotional level, leaving clients feeling empowered by the very experiences that once limited them.

As with any form of psychotherapy, there may be a temporary increase in distress. There is potential for unresolved memories to emerge, and one may be more likely to experience a high level of emotion or physical sensations. Each case is unique, and it is important to know that no matter what happens, it is part of the process.