Many celebrities have credited EMDR to their mental health recovery; Prince Harry, Evan Rachel Wood and Sandra Bullock recently.
This process of trauma recovery is fascinating because it addresses the neuro-science based and well researched concept that trauma, or what each individual perceives as trauma, settles in the body. Trauma can remain stuck there and interfere with our lives and our relationships for a long time.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing works through bilateral stimulation of the right and left hemispheres of the brain (moving eyes left to right or using tapping, sounds or tactile paddles that activate left to right). This “firing” and repeated reactivation while thinking about the memory opens the neural pathways within our brain, thereby allowing traumatic memories (as the patient focuses and processes them) to become “unstuck”.
EMDR is simply one way to process trauma utilizing a mind body approach. I compare it to a power tool in the therapist’s toolbox. What I appreciate about EMDR is actually the empowering aspect of it. The positive resourcing that could be used in this way makes for a re-building of the Self; installing inner strength, confidence, resiliency, hope (literally) in the brain. In my practice, I often hear individuals describe the experience as “re-writing history” or feeling less identified with trauma and more in control of the thoughts/beliefs we often become so attached to.
Lets acknowledge here that this process can occur in various ways depending on the individual. Healing can be accessed through various body based modalities. Yoga, Art therapy, dance, movement, journaling, creative writing–to name a few. Movement forward/progress comes from continually listening to that intuitive part of oneself, following the inspiration and curiosities that present themselves to you, adding different healing interventions to your regimen if they work for you and then regularly evaluating what is effective.
EMDR is so attractive perhaps because it incorporates this holistic method of healing. It addresses the whole person, mind and body, and has been well-researched and evidenced-based as a practice. Each practicioner is unique in how they apply the techniques and it is so important to check in with yourself to determine if this feels right for you.*