What is EMDR and how does it work?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy frequently used with trauma clients. It uses Rapid Eye Movement to simulate REM sleep and help the patient overcome distress that may have been caused by traumas such as domestic violence, crime, sexual abuse, or combat.

The body uses REM sleep to process emotions that it experiences every day. However, when it experiences trauma, this function is impaired, and the patient does not get relief from distress through REM sleep. The artificial stimulation seeks to achieve this objective.

The human mind processes disturbing experiences naturally. However, when a person experiences extreme trauma or is frequently exposed to distressing situations, the natural healing process gets overloaded and fails to process some of the experiences. The unprocessed memories are stored in the brain as raw experiences that keep on recurring as if the original event is happening afresh. EMDR therapy seeks to correct this situation by unlocking negative emotions and memories that are entrenched in the nervous system. The brain then processes this experience making it part of the past rather than a recurring event.

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