A natural healing that integrates all aspects of experience
“Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. EMDR is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches. To date, EMDR therapy has helped millions of people of all ages relieve many types of psychological stress.” (www.emdria.org)
EMDR therapy was developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro. It is based on the theory of adaptive information processing theory, which holds that our minds and brains have a natural healing system that strives to process all experience to its most adaptive state. Fully processed experiences are accessible to us in long-term memory, which contains important data about what we have learned so that this information is available to help us navigate new experiences. These fully processed memories are clearly about something that is over and in the past when we think of them.
However, when we have an experience that is especially stressful or disturbing, our minds are unable to fully process that experience at the time it occurs. The unprocessed or partially processed experience is dysfunctionally stored in memory and may contain the emotions, sensations, physical states (body memory), beliefs, and other aspects of what we experienced at the time. These are the memories that continue to feel upsetting today. The beliefs, emotions, and body experiences that are contained in these memories about the past continue to effect how we experience ourselves and our lives in the present.
Using a standardized protocol and bilateral stimulation (eye movements, taps, or sounds), EMDR therapy facilitates our brain’s natural way of healing so that we can process now what could not be processed at the time that the experience occurred. Naturally and fully processed, those disturbing experiences can truly be in the past, stored in our long-term memories, as useful information to guide us in the future.
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