EMDR Therapy

The aim of this section is to provide a short presentation of what therapy looks like. It is not meant to turn someone into a trained professional but to raise awareness about what therapy constitutes and how it helps.

There are many different kinds of therapy which help differently according to the various experts. These include cognitive behavioural therapy, exposure therapy or stress inoculation therapy. For the purposes of this training we provide a brief description of Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy or EMDR.

EMDR rests on the notion that we are resilient as humans and we file and process information, often distressful, and go through with it. We often do this thanks to REM sleep as the moment when the organism processes information best. However, sometimes we fail – information is stuck, shattered or unfinished in processing. If our REM sleep is disrupted, we may not file things very well. Unprocessed experiences come back as distressing thoughts, anxiety, reliving and rethinking the experience. EMDR intends to address this. It facilitates REM sleep in order to process the distressful information.[1]

EMDR is composed of eight phases. The mental health professional identifies the memory blocking the process of mental healing. They ask the patient to hold this memory in their thoughts as they follow the therapist’s hand movements across the patient’s view. This recreates REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep and due to internal associations, the patient begins to process the disturbing experience.[2] The therapy leads to complete transformation about the way the patient views the memory. Feelings of guilt in first responders for having failed to save a life are often transformed to the extent of fulfilment for having done all they could.[3]

You can also watch and discuss this educational video on EMDR, developed by The School of Life: