What is EMDR? | A Blog About Trauma Healing

You may have heard of it before – EMDR – but what is it?? Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. In short, it’s a therapeutic modality to treat trauma. Developed by Francine Shapiro, it harnesses experiencing emotions in the body to help past hurts move through, and in the end feel neutral, rather than continuing to feel so emotionally painful. EMDR uses alternating stimulation of the two sides of the brain – the rational, thinking and language side, and the emotion-based, feeling side – to put experiences away in the library of our mind in a more adaptive way.

Rather than asking someone to recount the trauma through words, we seek to process the experience through emotions and body sensations. The brain strives to make sense of all experiences. We become traumatized when the brain struggles to make sense of it’s experiences; this is why we so often walk away from violence or natural disasters so traumatized. Those experiences do not make sense. The “whys” associated with those kinds of experiences cannot necessarily be answered. Thus, assisting our brain in reprocessing the memories, we can help them “settle” and reduce the occurrence of daily triggers that bring us back into the pain.

As a therapist, I tend to approach the healing process from the perspective that trauma, any impactful experience that continues to largely effect us as we move through life, is housed in the body. Many people identify with “emotional discomfort.” So, unless we explore that connection, we will continue to experience bothersome triggers that bring us back to those traumas. And, not only does EMDR treat “complex” trauma, but I’ve also successfully used it to address general symptoms of depression and anxiety, rooted in those negative statements we say to ourselves.

Two of us here at Wild Tree Psychotherapy are fully trained in EMDR. If you are curious to learn more, don’t hesitate to contact us! In the meantime, practice what it feels like to notice how emotions and experiences are expressed physically in your body. You might find that things that used to feel emotionally bothersome to you dissipate quicker when you bring your attention to how you are responding physically!

Click here to read more about EMDR!

Written by Lauren Robbins, MS, LPCC, LADC