What is EMDR?

EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) is a treatment technique used to reduce chronic mental health symptoms (e.g. anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, etc..) caused by traumatic events. This technique involves both talk therapy and be performing repeated eye movement exercises which stimulate a process resulting in reduction in mental and emotional disturbance. EMDR is a relatively new treatment (first developed about 30 years ago), however extensive research has targeted EMDR, determining its high degree of effectiveness around alleviating traumatic symptoms, and PTSD.

How does EMDR work?

When someone experiences a traumatic event, and possibly develops PTSD, the memory is stored in “isolated neural networks”. This prevents the memory from being adequately processed, and therefore not allowing the person to emotionally recover. The combined effect of back and forth eye movement (as done in EMDR), along with simultaneously holding specific thoughts or images in one’s mind, works to disrupt the pattern in which the brain currently experiences this memory. This “disruption” caused by the eye movement allows for new processing to take place, generally with notably fewer feelings of emotional disturbance associated with the memory.