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Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

Why EMDR Works in the process of Healing One’s Emotions

When a person is very upset, their brain cannot process information as it does ordinarily. One moment becomes "frozen in time," and remembering a trauma may feel as bad as going through it the first time because the images, sounds, smells, and feelings haven’t changed. Such memories have a lasting negative effect that interferes with the way a person sees the world and the way they relate to other people.

EMDR has an effect on the way the brain processes information. Normal information processing is resumed so that following a successful EMDR session, a person no longer relives the images, sounds, and feelings when the event is brought to mind. You still remember what happened, but it is less upsetting. EMDR is similar to what occurs naturally during dreaming or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Therefore, EMDR can be thought of as a physiologically based therapy that helps a person see disturbing material in a new and less distressing way. (adapted from emdria.org)

The emphasis in EMDR is to help the brain reorganize and store the traumatic memory in an effective manner. E.M.D.R. helps the information processing system make the automatic connections required to resolve the disturbance. During the EMDR session, “specific procedures are used to help clients maintain a sense of control during memory work as the therapist guides their focus of attention. They need only focus briefly on the disturbing memory during the processing while engaged in the bilateral stimulation (eye movements, taps or tones) as the internal associations are made. The client’s brain makes the needed links as new emotions, sensations, beliefs and memories emerge. All the work is done during the therapy sessions. It is not necessary for the client to describe the memory in detail, and no homework is used.” Dr Francine Shapiro, PhD

The anticipated results of an EMDR session are that the person is no longer bothered or haunted by the traumatic event because the brain is now accommodating the memory as it does all others.

Sometimes other related traumas and memories come up in an EMDR session. These also can be processed using EMDR - usually in a subsequent session.



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