How Does EMDR Therapy Work?

EMDR is a leading treatment and therapy application for PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other manifestations of trauma. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing helps rewire painful, frustrating memories of the past to be less impactful and less haunting. Rather than live in a constant state of fight or flight due to the “living past”, EMDR helps people live with a sort of peace regarding the past by taking away the traumatic power of traumatic memories.

Eye movement is part of the way we make sense of information we receive throughout the day. For example, when we enter the REM stage of sleep, the deepest and most restful stage of sleep, our brains are able to process the millions of stimuli it receives each day. We can’t watch our own eyes move, however, if we were to record ourselves during this stage of sleep, we would find our eyes moving rapidly back and forth underneath our eyelids. EMDR works in a very similar manner. Entering a relaxed state of memory recall, we work with our eye movements to make sense of traumatic memories from the past which the brain has never had the opportunity to fully sort out and make sense of.

Bilateral Stimulation

The most important and effective part of EMDR therapy is bilateral stimulation, which helps the brain process difficult information brought on by traumatic memories. By moving the eyes from right to left and in varying four point patterns, the brain is stimulated in a way that helps to process memories. Bilateral stimulation can also be brought on with sounds, tapping, lights, and more. After the brain adjusts to the bilateral stimulation, an EMDR practitioner will ask their patient to recall a specific traumatic memory and identify the amount of emotional pain associated with that memory. Keeping the memory intact, the bilateral stimulation continues. Patients verbalize everything they are experiencing in the moment. It is common for patients to be able to identify new feelings, new memories, and new associations with the traumatic memory or even witness a total change in imagery, as if the memory itself were changing.

The bilateral stimulation continues until the distress and intensity of the memory starts to fade. After another recall, the patient is surprised to find that the memory is no longer distressing and that they have gained wisdom from their experience. What ever they had learned from that traumatic moment has essentially been unlearned and whatever they needed to learn for their recovery has been learned and programmed anew. Moving forward, the new lessons and memories associated with the traumatic moment are the only lessons and memories associated with the traumatic moment. There may be a vague recall of difficult emotions, but they do not have the power or presence they once did. Instead of experience the physical and mental symptoms of PTSD, a patient can experience peace, calm, and relaxation without being triggered.

Trauma treatment and EMDR are life changing, and life saving, opportunities. Find the solution you’re looking for in trauma treatment. Through effective residential treatment, Khiron House helps you find the path you need toward health and wellness in recovery. For information, call us today. UK: 020 3811 2575 (24 hours). USA: (866) 801 6184 (24 hours).