What is EMDR therapy?
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy is an evidence-based psychotherapy proven to help people recover from trauma and other disorders such as, anxiety, depression, and panic disorder. EMDR is more than just eye movements. It is an integrative form of psychotherapy that uses the brain’s natural healing process to resume processing of traumatic experiences.
How does it work?
EMDR stimulates the same type of brain connections created in REM sleep when we dream. Studies show that during REM sleep the brain processes survival information, the learning that took place during the day, and memories (Shapiro, 2021). Therefore, REM sleep is the brain’s information processing system that allows us to “digest” experiences, allowing learning to take place. As the saying goes, sleep on it.
When we are unable to get into REM sleep, perhaps due to nightmares, excessive drug use, anxiety, or preexisting medical conditions, the skills we learn for the day can be lost (Shapiro, 2021).
What to expect in an EMDR session?
In your first few sessions, an EMDR therapist will spend time gathering as much pertinent information about what brings you to therapy. Once the therapist has gathered all the necessary information, time is spent building a good working relationship with you. The EMDR therapist then prepares you for processing by teaching coping skills you can utilize in your day-to-day life. The therapist then asks you to recall memories/incidents that are affecting you now. You then choose which form of bilateral stimulation (eye movements, auditory tones, or tapping) you would like to use during processing. The bilateral stimulation is provided while you process the memory.