EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the emotional and physical distress that result from disturbing life experiences.
When a person has experienced something upsetting or disturbing the brain has difficulty processing the thoughts, images, feelings, and body sensations. This may be because the event happened too quickly for the brain to process it properly or because the situation was “too big” for the brain to process all the information at once.
As a result, one moment becomes “frozen in time”, and remembering a traumatic experience may feel just as real as the first time because the images, sounds, smells, and feelings are still very vivid and intense. Such disturbing memories may stay “stuck” and have a lasting negative impact that interferes with the way a person sees the world, themselves, and other people.
These types of stuck memories are often what lead to PTSD symptoms, or symptoms of depression, anxiety, and grief. In other words, those that struggle with these types of debilitating symptoms have most likely experienced something extremely stressful and overwhelming and the event or situation was too big for the brain to fully digest.
Even though the person may rationally know that the “old event” is over with they may still be experiencing intense lingering emotions, body sensations, thoughts, and feelings associated with the original trauma.
Following a successful EMDR session, normal information processing resumes and a person will no longer relive their trauma with the same images, thoughts, feelings, and body sensations. The person will still remember what happened, but there is less of an emotional charge and therefore much less distress.