Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is one of the field's most researched and evidence-based treatments for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and trauma. The theory behind EMDR asserts that humans have a natural capacity to process experiences and store memories. However, traumatic events overwhelm the body's capacity to complete this process.
In some cases, these events fit into what our society would label as "traumatic", such as being assaulted, participating in war time activities, having a near death experience, being abandoned by a spouse, losing a child, or getting into a car accident. However, trauma can also be defined in a more generalized way as anything in the past that negatively influences the present. These experiences often include situations where a person felt horror, fear, dread, helplessness, or experienced bodily harm.
Who is EMDR for:
Thus, EMDR can also be helpful for the child who choked on a mint and now refuses to eat, the collegiate runner who struggles to compete after tripping and falling in a race, the student who struggles to fall and stay asleep the night before quizzes and tests, and the person who has begun having panic attacks without knowing why. Because the EMDR protocol is able to access certain areas of the brain that talk therapy cannot, clients can even resolve trauma that happened when they were too young to remember! Those who have or are experiencing compulsions or addictions will be happy to know that on top of resolving underlying trauma, EMDR can also help reduce the intensity of cravings and urges.
How EMDR helps:
EMDR recognizes that the past can invade the present with negativity, and offers a method for how we in the present can positively influence our experiences in the past. Even better, it assists clients to heal and prepare for healthy coping in the future! So clients do not need to keep coming back for sessions every time a new difficulty arises because EMDR better equips them to properly walk through tough times ahead in a productive and healthy way.
Some people may experience an isolated traumatic event while many people experience repeated traumatic events throughout their lifetime. EMDR is not simpły a way of suppressing or coping with symptoms; it is a way of healing the mind and body to the point where original adaptive functioning is restored, increasing mental health and stability in the present and in the future.
For more information, I recommend the following video explanations:
EMDR Explained, Pt 1
EMDR Explained, Pt 2
I also recommend the following book: "The Body Keeps the Score" by Bessel van der Kolk.