Eye Movement Desensitizing and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an information processing therapy that is used to overcome the effects of traumatic or highly upsetting experiences. EMDR combines several therapeutic methods—psycho-dynamic, cognitive behavioral, interpersonal, experiential, and body-centered therapies. It was developed by Francine Shapiro, PhD.
EMDR should actually be called alternating bilateral brain stimulation therapy. It is practiced by a psychotherapist using therapeutic methods in combination with other forms of bilateral stimulation which can include hand taps, sounds, or lights to cause the patient’s brain to reprocess the event or events.
EMDR can be extremely efficient in treating single-incident trauma (automobile accident, rape, attack, etc.). It allows you to become detached from the original event and allows you to view the event in a detached manner. This allows you to mentally reorganize your perception of the event and deal with the trauma in a different manner.
Trauma is stored in the non-verbal part of the brain which is connected to emotions and physical sensations. Traditional talk therapy causes you to stay in the part of your brain where logic and language are stored You cannot process the emotional impact of the memory in that part of the brain. If you are stuck in old memories and thought patterns, you are unable to create new behaviors. EMDR distracts you from the traumatic memories and changes the brain.
It appears that the alternating bilateral stimulation relieves the anxiety associated with the trauma so that the original event can be examined from a more detached perspective, somewhat like watching a movie of what happened—allowing for cognitive reorganization which in turn leads to spontaneous emotional and behavioral life changes.
If you are stuck in old memories you can’t create new behavior—EMDR distracts the client from the traumatic memories and allows the brain to be changed.