EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing, is a treatment modality that helps you make sense of and overcome difficult life experiences. EMDR basically unleashes your body's natural ability to heal. After EMDR, the experiences you address will no longer carry the same emotional intensity. They will feel like they are in your past, not a constantly being triggered in your present. In addition, you will be able to transform how you see yourself in light of these events. For example, instead of feeling bad or unlovable, you can believe that you are worthy of love and good things.
When working through difficult memories with EMDR, you do have to think about the memories, but you do not have to re-live every detail. You should not feel overwhelmed. EMDR is designed to help you feel like you are clearing out all the negative feelings instead of heaping them on. Clients have expressed feeling a sense of freedom, hope, and relief even after one EMDR session.
A recent study comparing EMDR, CBT, and antidepressants showed the following results after treatment ended:
- Antidepressant - Therapeutic benefit ceased
- CBT - Maintained therapeutic benefit from treatment
- EMDR - Continued growing even after treatment was over.
With CBT, the focus would be on changing your thoughts, which would in turn affect your behavior and your beliefs. And it does work. But EMDR often works even better. Disturbing or traumatic life events are usually stored in a non-verbal part of the brain and EMDR targets that part of the brain, whereas CBT does not. In addition, with CBT you change the script in your current thoughts and in the current moment. With EMDR, you change the script at the beginning - the place where the belief and pattern of behavior began. You are then able to change the script during all the times in your life you were following that negative or untrue belief.
(I think I must have had trouble inserting a citation for this research. I’ll have to look for it. We can link to my blog about EMDR for more info or incorporate more here.)