Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a trauma therapy developed by psychologist Dr. Francine Shapiro in 1987.
EMDR practitioner believes that at the time of a traumatic event, you are so overwhelmed with negative emotions, your memory network fails to integrate and process this event. This moment becomes “frozen in time.” Later when triggered by a similar image, smell, sound, and feelings, you will be reliving the traumatic experience all over again, which can interfere with your daily functioning, change your belief system and the world around you, and impact how you relate to others. For example, you were humiliated in front of the whole class by a classmate when you failed to give the right answer. You saw other kids whispering and laughing at you. In that moment, you felt stupid, mortified, and ashamed. A belief took root: I am stupid. Today when you make a presentation for your client, the same feelings are triggered when you see a few people in the audience exchanging comments and laughing. You cannot continue your speech as you are overwhelmed by sense of shame, and inadequacy.
EMDR therapy appears to work by directly affecting the brain and “unfreezing” the traumatic memories, allowing you to resolve them.
Over time, you’re able to work through the disturbing memories and associated feelings, until you are able to think about the event without reliving it. The memory is still there, but it is less upsetting. Taking the same example, EMDR can help you to integrate the memory with a new belief: Teenagers can be cruel and I am fine as the way I am. You will no longer be triggered when you see people whispering while you are making a speech.
EMDR is shown to be an effective treatment for trauma, PTSD, anxiety, and panic.