What is EMDR?
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing [EMDR] is an evidence-based therapy, that is highly effective in the treatment of trauma. Studies have shown empirically that eye movements can reduce anxiety, stress, and alleviate reoccurring intrusive thoughts, memories and sensations. It has been endorsed by a number of organizations including the World Health Organization, International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies and the Veteran’s Administration.
Stressful moments, whether they are life threatening, or emotionally gut wrenching, elicit the same chemical response from the brain. The brain tells the adrenal glands to release the stress hormones adrenalin, cortisol and norepinephrine, which arouse the sympathetic nervous system to either direct us to fight back, flee or freeze. The body’s fight, flight or freeze response is its primal reaction to danger, its first defensive guard posts.
Stressful events can become stuck in our memory networks and like a scratched CD, continue to replay over and over again. The emotional impact of the memories is re-experienced every time they are remembered, because the flight, fight or freeze response is continually being activated.
EMDR helps the brain reprocess and “digest” the past stressful events that feel like they are current because they have become stuck in continued activated neural networks. The bilateral stimulation of the brain, with either eye movements, tapping or sounds, opens the dysfunctional networks and refiles the memory so that it is no longer felt to be current. The reprocessed memory when remembered is experienced as something that has occurred in the past, the nervous system is no longer activated, and a safer and calmer reaction is experienced.