How does EMDR work?

TargetYour therapist works with you to identify a disturbing event. This becomes the target event.

Bilateral Stimulation (BLS)
Back and forth stimuli such as eye movements, taps, or sounds are used to process the traumatic memory. BLS helps to remove its emotional charge. Imagine the volume on your car radio going from very loud and you are unable to focus on anything but the noise to a reduced level where you can focus your attention on the things going on around you. We often use handheld pulsars to create the BLS. These devices vibrate rhythmically back and forth during the processing phase. 

During processing, you are like a passenger on a train that makes numerous stops. At each stop you will be asked to describe what you are notice or feel in your body. The train will then move on to the next stop, and so on. Your therapist help you keep the train moving.

A career firefighter summed it up this way...
"It is like getting on a train and traveling coast to coast with a lot of stops in between.”

Processed Memories
Memories that have been processed no longer hold a charge, and negative beliefs can be replaced with neutral or positive beliefs about yourself and the event. Reprocessing an event does not erase the memory of the event but it helps to ease your distress around it.    

After processing the cumulative effect of traumatic calls...
“ I’m not anticipating that bad call. I’m not sitting there dwelling on the possibility of that call. ”

EMDR - Examples of Cognitions

The following is a list of negative beliefs that are often attached to traumatic experiences.