Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a therapeutic approach, often used for treating trauma. It is based on the idea that the traumatized brain can heal itself using rapid eye movement (like in REM sleep) and bilateral stimulation. When a traumatic or overwhelming event occurs, the occurrence can become “stuck” in the brain, rather than being processed and integrated like a regular memory. The memory itself may even be forgotten, but distressing feelings can be triggered in the present. EMDR helps to create connections between the brain’s memory networks, which allows the traumatic memory to be processed more easily.
EMDR is most well-known for treating trauma, but has also been shown to have positive results for treating anxiety and panic attacks, depression, stress, phobias, sleep problems, complicated grief, addictions, pain relief, performance anxiety, dissociative disorders, body dysmorphia, and personality disorders. In more layman’s terms, EMDR is sometimes described as helping people who chronically feel “stuck” in some area of their lives, because of past history.
For more about EMDR, including the scientific background, process, research, and uses, check out the links below: