Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an evidence-based psychotherapy method that incorporates elements of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and gradual exposure as a way to help one work through painful memories and experiences.
Based on evidence that the brain is wired for healing, EMDR stimulates "re-processing" of events into a more healthy response through bilateral stimulation that mimics our brain's REM (random eye movement) state when asleep to store the memories in a more typical way.
Potentially traumatic events can cause the brain to be on high alert for anything that might cause the same experience. This can result in feeling on edge, being triggered by seemingly unrelated things, and even having flashbacks of the stressful situation. Through EMDR, participants often notice the memories remain, but the body's response changes to a more calm and neutral state.
This treatment can be useful for individuals who have experienced or witnessed potentially traumatic single or multiple exposures to stressful events. EMDR does not require an individual to recount in detail distressing memories, but instead helps process emotions, beliefs, and images into a more natural healing process.
EMDR can be useful for children and adults as young as 4 years and older.