EMDR Treatment, or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy, is a psychotherapy mental health treatment technique to help reduce the impact of distressing experiences from the past (big or small) that intrude on your present-day life. It is used to treat troubling symptoms such as anxiety, depression, anger, panic, guilt and any post-traumatic reactions. It can also be helpful in enhancing emotional resources such as self-esteem and confidence.
We all use our minds to cope with predictable stress, figure things out, reflect on our emotions and self-esteem, and reflect on our experiences. Previous memories/experiences get stored in our brain, and pathways are created that act as automatic templates for future learning. Usually, this is helpful. However, the experience of trauma overwhelms our ability to cope effectively at the time, and the experience gets stored in our memory system differently and in ways that make it difficult to respond as we normally would. People may “over-react” or behave in “irrational” ways that do not make sense to others, or to themselves. Additionally, we may develop negative ways to think about ourselves in relation to trauma (e.g., “I caused it” or “I am a bad person”), and these negative beliefs/thoughts may influence how we think about ourselves in other situations.
The result of EMDR is that clients are able to release what is unhelpful and distressing from the experience and take away what is helpful and adaptive. It also allows for the process of replacing unhealthy, negative beliefs associated with traumatic memories with more healthy, positive beliefs. This leads to functioning in healthier ways and being able to think of past events without feeling distressed.