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What is EMDR?

The acronym “EMDR” is: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

A Simple Explanation of EMDR

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy. It’s a therapeutic model that can be highly effective for those who have experienced trauma. 

EMDR therapy works on the premise that our emotional well-being is tied to our physical (somatic) state. Therefore, EMDR employs a body-based therapy technique called bilateral simulation.  During bilateral simulation, a therapist will guide a client through eye movements, tones, or taps in order to access and move a memory that’s been incorrectly stored to a more functional part of the brain.

When we experience trauma, our brain may processes and stores memories incorrectly. This incorrect storage can lead to past memories influencing our feelings and behaviors in the present. Related or unrelated stimuli in the present can lead clients to react as they did at the time of the initial trauma because the brain feels as if the past disturbing event is currently underway.

EMDR therapy helps address this inaccurate storage issue so that the painful memories associated with past trauma lose their emotional charge. Once this happens, clients can react to stimuli in the present without the past interfering. 

At PTI, our S.A.F.E. EMDR approach augments traditional EMDR therapy.  PTI’s trauma-informed model considers how trauma affects an individual’s ability to regulate the nervous system and to connect with others.  Deb Kennard, founder of PTI, created the SAFE approach to simplify attachment and regulation theory to make the EMDR process more effective.   The SAFE approach is informed by somatic therapies, mindfulness practices, attachment theory and neurobiological regulation models. It facilitates a safe and connected environment, which is critical for effective EMDR therapy.