Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an approach to psychotherapy that works with the way memories are stored in the brain.
People often seek out EMDR to address specific past events or memories that are causing them issues. Though, it is important to note that many people have unexplained symptoms, for example fatigue, poor concentration or a racing heartbeat, without conscious links to memories. Since there can be experiences in life that do not follow the normal path of being physiologically processed by the brain and body, these experiences can show up as symptoms instead of memories.
It is not necessary for you to have specific memories in mind when beginning EMDR.
When something happens in your present life that resembles a past unprocessed experience, or even has just a slight similarity to a past experience, the brain can react as if the experience is happening again in the present moment and you may experience symptoms, reactions, or flashbacks.
EMDR helps move stuck memories to a part of the brain where they can now truly be in the past.
Real, physical changes take place with EMDR.
EMDR can make it possible for you to live more in the present, without the past interfering.
EMDR uses a rhythmic side-to-side pattern (bilateral stimulation) which assists in processing memories, changing the way they are stored in the brain and body. EMDR usually relies on eye movements which involve the therapist moving two fingers in front of the eyeline of the client while they recall distressing memories or feelings as their eyes track the finger movement. In addition to eye movements, other things like audio tones or hand buzzers may also be used for the bilateral stimulation.
You are not required to tell your detailed story and the goal is not to relive past experiences. During the processing phase, the goal is to stay in the present moment while also holding the memories or feelings of the past.
EMDR is not a quick intervention or technique, it is an approach that has 8 phases and 3 prongs.