Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
EMDR involves bilateral stimulation through eye movements or alternating left and right light touch. It is a physiologically based therapy that helps a person perceive disturbing material in a new and less distressing way.
When a person experiences an upsetting event the brain often cannot process information in the conventional manner. The incident can feel as if it happened yesterday, and thinking about it can feel as bad as going through it the first time. According to the EMDR International Association, “EMDR seems to be similar to what happens naturally during dreaming REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep.”
Some clients appreciate that the participant does not have to discuss disturbing memories in detail. Bringing up the memory and simply saying, for example, “It was something upsetting that happened when I was 12 years old” is often sufficient to identify the target memory for desensitization.
According to leading trauma expert Dr. Bessel van der Kolk of The Trauma Center at the Justice Resource Institute, EMDR is one of the best approaches for individuals who have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and it is also useful for those who have trauma symptoms that fall short of the full PTSD diagnosis.
(See www.emdria.org for more information on this approach.)