There’s more to Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) than just eye movements. What more is there about EMDR?
EMDR is more than a technique, it is an integrative psychotherapy. It’s approach is grounded in adaptive information processing. In 1987 Francine Shapiro noticed through chance observation that back and forth eye movements appeared to naturally occur when processing past trauma. This lead her to further explore this phenomenon and develop EMDR as a therapy.
Past life experiences can have a profound impact on our view of the world and ourselves. In the case of trauma this can interfere with our daily living, affecting the quality of our relationships and the way we interact with the world and others. We experience life events on many levels and with a combination of some or all of our five senses. We naturally attempt to make meaning of our experience, linking it with other experiences we’ve had, both good and bad. We process our experience. We live and learn.
When we experience trauma that overwhelms us, we may not be able to process and link it with our other life experiences in a way that makes sense. As we continue to live our lives, as time passes, we make sense and make peace with the trauma. We find healthy adaptive ways to integrate this into our life experience. When this does not happen we get stuck with the past, unable to get past our past. We can say that the trauma memory gets stuck, “frozen in time.” Adaptive processing stops. The more intense our experience of the event, the greater the risk that this could happen.
EMDR therapy helps trauma memory “get unstuck” and reprocessed so that it can be integrated with our other experiences in healthy adaptive ways. This is the transformative power of EMDR.