EMDR or “Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing,” is a type of therapy that can help individuals process through memories that have gotten “stuck,” and are causing distress.
Often these memories are maladaptive, and are interfering with an individual’s quality of life, and sometimes their ability to function. Even though the person may have great insight and understand what is taking place on a logical / intellectual level, often the memory still has an emotional “charge,” and can affect the way they relate to the world.
As one might imagine, this can be debilitating. If someone has experienced a traumatic event, they might feel as if they are a slave to their multiple triggers and may spend the majority of their time in a hypervigilant state. If they are out shopping and hear a loud noise, or are exposed to certain smells, then suddenly they’re involuntarily pulled back into the past as if attached to a bungee cord.
EMDR helps to “cut the cord,” and can allow individuals to become fully engaged in their lives again, instead of putting so much of their energy into avoiding potential triggers. They will still be able to access the memory but can operate from a place of emotional neutrality when doing so. Basically, the event will move from the forefront of their mind, to the peripheral.
One benefit of EMDR is that clients do not have to go into detail about the event for it to be effective. This is great news for people who are not ready to share what took place, or those that struggle to articulate it. Adverse life events often affect us on a level deeper than words can reach, and we may find we do not have the language to adequately convey what took place – especially if it occurred during childhood. In some situations, verbalizing a traumatic event can actually re-traumatize individuals, and delay their treatment progress.
With the use of EMDR facilitated by a trained therapist, many people are able to move past distressing events and into the next chapter of their lives with dignity and hope. Life is too short to be burdened or held back any longer.