The technique itself involves sitting in a chair and being led by a trained therapist through either a series of eye movements, or using the therapist’s headphones and hand-held clicking devices, to stimulate both sides of the brain, while processing issues during therapy.
Here is a metaphor for how it works: It is based on the concept that memories of traumatic or adverse events have not been “filed” into the best filing cabinets in the brain. EMDR techniques help the person to “refile” memories into a better order in the brain. Studies show that this frequently takes away much, if not all, of the emotional pain and difficulties that these memories cause.
Definition - EMDR is an evidence-based psychotherapy for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In addition, successful outcomes are well-documented in the literature for EMDR treatment of other psychiatric disorders, mental health problems, and somatic symptoms. The model on which EMDR is based, Adaptive Information Processing (AIP), posits that much of psychopathology is due to the maladaptive encoding of and/or incomplete processing of traumatic or disturbing adverse life experiences. This impairs the client’s ability to integrate these experiences in an adaptive manner. The eight-phase, three-pronged process of EMDR facilitates the resumption of normal information processing and integration. This treatment approach, which targets past experience, current triggers, and future potential challenges, results in the alleviation of presenting symptoms, a decrease or elimination of distress from the disturbing memory, improved view of the self, relief from bodily disturbance, and resolution of present and future anticipated triggers.