The EMDR Process
Origins of psychological disorders
EMDR research suggests that many of our psychological challenges – such as anxiety and mood disorders, substance abuse, pain and chronic pain – are directly linked to life events that the brain has not properly processed.
The information we store in memory about life experiences usually consists of at least three components:
- An image or a scene
- An emotion
- A thought or cognition
Each one of these components can be used to recall the life experience.
Rapid Eye Movement REM
Sleep research suggests that life events are processed and integrated into the brain/memory learning systems during the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of the sleep cycle. Healthy memory processing stores the day’s experiences in long-term memory, integrated into the existing memory network where unnecessary details are pruned, memories lose their vividness, and they contribute to learning.
When memory processing is not healthy, usually due to traumatic or challenging life events, experiences are not processed into integrated learning experiences. The memory of the experience remains vivid and emotionally charged, and we are easily triggered by events that defy logical reason. The intensity of the situation is such that the brain cannot do its integrating work.
By guiding the client through waking rapid eye movement, EMDR therapy helps the brain process memories of difficult experiences that are still present in short-term memory. EMDR therapy helps the brain heal itself. The therapist’s job is to help the brain complete the processing in a healthy manner. The brain is doing its own healing.
EMDR therapy is a complete system of therapy.
EMDR therapy is a trauma therapy used to help clients deal with traumatic events like accidents, natural disasters, or bereavements, to name a few. Research provides support for EMDR therapy in cases of PTSD and complex PTSD.
EMDR therapy has a three-pronged time-based focus. EMDR connects with and releases traumatic memories of the past, addresses present triggering events, and prepares the client for the future.
Watch this video from the EMDR International Association to find out more about EMDR therapy, what it involves, and how it could help you: