Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy approach designed for working with distressing or traumatic memories. The theory behind EMDR is that many psychological difficulties are the result of distressing life experiences which have not been stored in memory properly and are said to be unprocessed or blocked. These traumatic memories may need some help to become processed. In 1987, Francine Shapiro made the chance observation that eye movements can reduce the intensity of disturbing thoughts and be utilised to successfully treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Normal memories are stored by a part of the brain called the hippocampus. The hippocampus is like a librarian that catalogues (processes) events and stores them in the right place. However, some traumatic events (such as accidents, abuse, disasters or violence) are so overwhelming that the hippocampus doesn’t do its job properly and the memories are stored in their raw, unprocessed form. These trauma events are easily triggered and cause distress over and over again. EMDR helps create the connections between your brain’s memory networks, enabling your brain to process the traumatic memory in a very natural way.