How EMDR Heals Unresolved Trauma

You may have heard these 4 letters before: E M D R…but what does it mean and what does it do? Great questions that I’ll answer in this blog post.

First of all, EMDR stands for Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. EMDR has been around quite a long time, and there have been a significant amount of studies done that support EMDR works for treating PTSD, anxiety, addiction, and many other conditions.

So how does it work? So before I answer that, let me back up and talk about REM sleep for a minute. We know sleep is good for our bodies, but sleep is also SO important for our mental health as well. When we sleep and get into a REM sleep, our brain processes a lot of what happened during the day. During this processing, our brain starts to make sense of situations that happened throughout the day, so that we can understand and create a “story” about situations and interactions we’ve had throughout the day. This is how normal memories and experiences are processed.

Memories from a traumatic event are not the same as everyday memories. When something traumatic happens, our brain is unable to make sense of or attach an understanding to the experience. Because of that, the memory is stored differently, and the way we remember the situation is through how we felt during the traumatic event, physically and emotionally, and how the event made us feel and believe about ourselves. When new experiences remind us of the past event, it triggers these emotions, physical sensations, and beliefs about our self.

So this is where EMDR comes in. Through a very structured process, the memories from the traumatic event are processed using bilateral stimulation, a process that mimics REM sleep. The bilateral stimulation helps the individual start to understand the trauma in a new way, and create a story that the individual can make sense of. The processing also helps desensitize the individual to the memories, and reduces the strength of the emotional and physical response to the memory. In the second stage of EMDR, a new healthy belief about the individual replaces the old unhealthy belief, and is installed in the neural network.

This may sound very complicated, but it works. If you have unresolved trauma, you may want to do some research online about EMDR and read more about how it works. I hope this post is helpful in starting to understand how EMDR works.

Stay well and healthy and reach out anytime!