How does EMDR Work?
It is not yet clear how EMDR Therapy works neuro-biologically. However, we know that when we are upset or experience a traumatic incident, our brain cannot process information as it normally does. Sometimes the moment of the incident that we feel threatened, humiliated, or endangered “freezes in time” in our memory, and remembering that incident may feel as bad as passing through it the first time because images, sounds, smells and feelings are “frozen” and have not been properly processed in our mind. These memories and recollections that have not been processed have a lasting negative effect that interferes with the way we see the world and the way we relate to other people.
EMDR Therapy seems to have a direct effect on how the brain processes information. The normal processing of information is resumed (“thawing memory”), sometimes after a therapy session, the burden and emotional disturbance of the images, sounds and feelings of traumatic event memory is reduced. Although we will still remember the incident, but that memory will be less disturbing. Many types of therapy such as Traumatic Incident Reduction have similar goals. However, EMDR seems to be similar to what occurs naturally during the sleep or REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. Thus, EMDR Therapy can be theorized as a physiologically based therapy that helps us see the disturbing material in a new and less distressing way. The purpose of EMDR is to help us liberate ourselves from the past and live a healthy and productive present.