The emergence of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy can be explained as a combination of chance and scientific curiosity. In 1987, American psychologist F. Shapiro noticed that the impact of a distressing memory was alleviated while she watched children swinging in a park. She embarked on researching this experience, leading to a multitude of scientific studies to investigate the effect of eye movements on trauma. From 1987 to the present day, research has shown that not only eye movements but also different sensory stimuli (such as sound, bodily sensations, etc.) sequentially activating both lobes of the brain have a similar effect. Although the mechanisms through which this happens have not been fully explained, EMDR therapy is widely accepted as one of the most effective methods for trauma treatment and is commonly used worldwide.
The theoretical basis of EMDR is rooted in the Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) perspective. This theory posits that challenging experiences encountered by an individual at a time when they lack adequate coping resources are encoded in a distinct memory network in the mind. In EMDR therapy, the traumatic memory is revisited with the assistance of the therapist in a safe environment, using bilateral (two-sided) stimulation. The goal is to help the memory be stored in a more adaptive way.
Initially developed for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), EMDR’s applications have expanded over time. Nowadays, EMDR therapy is utilized in a broad spectrum of issues, including anxiety problems, specific phobias, self-esteem issues, and depression. Numerous research studies have been published regarding its effectiveness. For more detailed information on the topic, you can visit the website emdr.com.
Contrary to some portrayals, EMDR therapy does not involve erasing memories or “cleansing” the subconscious. A healthy therapeutic process involves a comprehensive examination of the current problem, understanding how it relates to the individual’s maladaptive beliefs. Subsequently, memories supporting these beliefs are identified, and a detailed therapy plan is developed, with these memories being worked on through bilateral stimulation. It is crucial for the therapist conducting EMDR therapy to possess a strong understanding of mental health.