Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR)
EMDR is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective in the treatment of trauma as well as issues such as anxiety, stress, grief and phobias.
The best way to explain EMDR would be to refer to our bodies’ natural process for healing. Just as we can heal from a cut or physical injury, our mind is aware when our body is under stress. It naturally wants to relive this stress and it uses the function of dreaming to do this. In dreaming our mind offers us metaphors and symbols to facilitate the communication related to these issues. For example, if someone is grieving the loss of a family member, they might find themselves in a red pickup truck, cruising down an unknown freeway. They are aware that the relative has passed away, but the relative might be unaware. The red truck might relate to a time in that person’s life that brings nostalgia, the unknown freeway might just represent the future they are facing. Either way, these metaphors and symbols can give them insights into what it would feel like to have a second chance to talk to their loved one. They might be more in touch with what they wanted to say and didn't get to, or it might indicate something they can still do to help their grieving process.
EMDR works in a similar way, without sleep or even trance. While awake and alert, the therapist facilitates the client’s own accelerated intellectual and emotional processes through simply mimicking the rapid eye movement found during the REM dream state. By providing this bilateral stimulation through the waving of fingers or tapping or an audio aid, the client gains access to these thoughts, memories, emotions, sensations and new impressions. In the process, a natural adaptive function is triggered which enables the client to work towards resolution and new understanding of the targeted incident. This is an effective transformation that can and often does result in a complete resolution of the aggravations and issue being addressed. A special benefit of this therapeutic approach is that the client realizes their natural ability to heal and they feel empowered for taking such a primary role in this process.