EMDR involves talking and bilateral stimulation, typically eye movements. Unlike traditional CBT, EMDR does not require homework. The aim is to reduce distress and negative beliefs associated with past overwhelming or traumatic experiences that are having a significant impact on our mental health. It is a phased, focused approach to treating trauma and other symptoms by reconnecting the traumatized person in a safe and measured way to the images, self-thoughts, emotions, and body sensations associated with the trauma, and allowing the natural healing powers of the brain to move toward adaptive resolution.
To explain it another way, stress responses are part of our natural fight, flight, or freeze instincts. When distress from a disturbing event remains, upsetting images, thoughts, and emotions may create an overwhelming feeling of being back in that moment, or of being “frozen in time.” EMDR therapy helps the brain process these memories and allows normal healing to resume. The experience is still remembered, but the fight, flight, or freeze response from the original event is resolved.