Healing Trauma: a Public Awareness Film for EMDR Therapy from Designmatters at ArtCenter on Vimeo.

What is EMDR?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an integrative psychotherapy approach that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress following disturbing life experiences. EMDR helps not only helps relieve psychological distress, but it is also an effective modality to enhance performance, and clients report lasting positive change.

How Does it Work?

EMDR appears to be similar to what occurs naturally during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Trained therapists use the structured protocol to help the client recall and reprocess distressing memories while simultaneously desensitizing the distressing associated feelings. This is done by employing bilateral stimulation, through eye movement, auditorily, or with tactile vibrations. EMDR helps speed up the brain’s natural healing process, so that the client can still access and recall their memory, but they will no longer relive the disturbing images, sounds, feelings and sensations.

What is EMDR Used to Treat?

EMDR is an evidence-based treatment modality for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. However, it can also be used for the following: panic attacks, phobias, performance anxiety and enhancement, stress, dissociative disorders, complicated grief, low self-esteem, pain management, addictions, personality disorders and sexual and/or physical abuse.

What Should I Expect?

You, the client, will remain in control at all times. EMDR only works when the client actively wants to process their distressing memories, and neither the therapist nor the process of bilateral stimulation can force the client to think about anything they do not want to.

At first, it is important to establish rapport with your therapist, and once you feel comfortable, your therapist will ask you to begin recollecting a timeline of memories that are pertinent to your current symptoms. This all happens before the bilateral stimulation is used, but many clients report that just by recalling events in a certain way, they begin to make connections and associations that are helpful in gaining insight into their current lives. You will be given many opportunities to ask questions, and talk through concerns about the process well before bilateral stimulation is initiated.