Traumatic memories can linger in the limbic system of the brain, unprocessed and emotionally charged. These memories, residing in the short-term memory system, can be triggered by present-day events, leading to a reactivation of the trauma as if it were happening in the moment. It’s akin to having too many apps draining the battery of our phone – a constant strain.
Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR) steps in to assist the brain in processing trauma fully, from the limbic system to the prefrontal cortex, where it can be properly stored in long-term memory.
“EMDR therapy has the ability to facilitate profound therapeutic change in much less time than has been traditionally assumed to be necessary, regardless of the number of years since the traumatic event occurred. Some controlled studies have indicated that 84-100% of single-trauma PTSD has been eliminated within 4.5 hours of treatment.” – Francine Shapiro, founder of EMDR Therapy
Bilateral dual attention stimuli play a crucial role in EMDR, involving back-and-forth repetitive eye-movement tracking or cross-hemispheric alternating sensory stimulation through auditory or visceral forms (such as tapping or buzzers). This technique helps clients straddle the past (traumatic memory) and the present (sensory stimuli), facilitating the safe processing of trauma. As described by Shapiro, the bilateral dual attention stimulus appears to titrate disturbance, enhance associative processing, and boost memory retrieval.
Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk worked with a client in EMDR therapy and said, “The process freed something in her mind/brain to activate new images, feelings, and thoughts; it was as if her life force emerged to create new possibilities for her future.”
With the assistance of the EMDR process, which taps into the brain’s natural orienting process towards wholeness, your brain becomes the guide, leading to self-healing.