When we have a traumatic experience or troubling event in our lives, we often have unprocessed memories that get fragmented and stored in the brain as disturbing images, thoughts, emotions and sensations. It’s a bit like a corrupted computer file. When these memories get triggered it can feel like we are still experiencing pieces of event. It feels like the threat is still happening because our brain isn’t registering that it is in the past. This can happen in the form of flashbacks, nightmares, fear/startle responses, or other triggers.
EMDR Therapy helps the different areas of the brain communicate with each other so the memories can be stored in long term memory. This is like the computer files being defragmented or uncorrupted. The memories become properly “filed” in the brain so they can be accessed when necessary without feeling distressing.
EMDR Therapy uses what we call “Dual Attention Stimulation” (DAS), in the form of eye movements, tapping, vibrations or sounds. The DAS helps the brain to process the memories. Memories are never erased with EMDR, but the charge and activation can be removed. So when you think of a memory that used to be disturbing, it no longer feels threatening and it is really clear that it was in the past.