Eye movement, desensitization and reprocessing or EMDR. This therapy was discovered by Francine Shapiro, Ph.D. 27 years ago. EMDR initially began to help those effected with trauma and over the years has now expanded to include treating depression, anxiety, addictions and performance enhancement, among other issues.
The client identifies the traumatic images and those become the target of therapy. When trauma occurs, that memory and the intense emotions get lodged in the “fight or flight” part of the brain, behind the forehead area. This is what makes the individual relive the trauma and the emotions as if it was yesterday even though the event happened 20 years ago. The goal is to move the memory from the “fight or flight” part of the brain to the cognitive part of the brain, the rational, thinking brain.
The client begins to move their eyes back and forth while the therapist is guiding the process, and the client’s own eye movement and brain does the work to move the traumatic memory to the long term memory of the brain, the lower back part of your head. Essentially this means the intense emotions are cleared and the event becomes simply another stored memory.
In addition, those erroneous negative core beliefs that often develop after the trauma such as “I am stupid”, “ I don’t deserve love”, “I should have done something” are also processed and the client comes to believe “I am intelligent” and “ I deserve love”, “I did the best I could”. These negative cognitions often times drive our life decisions or hold us back in life. With EMDR both the traumatic image as well as the negative cognition are resolved.