Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing was discovered by Francine Shapiro.
EMDR is a useful treatment technique to access and reprocess traumatic experiences. Shapiro believes that when a person is overwhelmed by difficult emotions—that moment gets “frozen in time.”
The idea behind EMDR is that strong, negative or frightening emotions are not stored in the brain in the way normal memories are. Instead, they become locked in the nervous system with original thoughts, sounds, and feeling states.
When this locked information gets triggered in daily life it can cause a person to feel helpless, scared, and, out of control.
An example of this was when Eve noticed she had a strong reaction to a co-worker’s teasing. She felt devalued by him and thought obsessively about their interactions. “Why am I letting him get to me’,” she said in our session. When she looked deeper inside, a childhood part of her remembered how her parents repeatedly ignored her requests for protection when her brother physically held her down and teased her about her developing body.
EMDR helped Eve reprocess the disturbing memories of her experiences with her brother and her feeling of abandonment by her parents.
After EMDR, Eve stopped re-enacting the emotional responses of childhood trauma with her co-worker. She was able to gain an adult perspective and eventually viewed the teasing as annoying and harmless.