What Do You Actually “Do” In EMDR Therapy?

An EMDR therapist targets specific memories and essentially follows the “channels” of those memories and associated body sensations, feelings, and thoughts.  It can be describe as similar to a “kink” in a hose. When you have distressing memory or trauma that is not processed effectively, it puts a “kink” in your neural network, and things that are loosely associated begin piling up on the blockage.  Clearing that initial block and associated memories can rewire your neural pathway and effectively process the activated memory channel.

While you are holding a distressing memory in focus, the EMDR therapist works with you to reprocess that memory with bilateral movements (eye, sounds, physical taps) over as many sessions as needed until the memory is no longer causing an activated or triggered feeling.

This method impacts the original distressing content and any associated memories since that event happened. 

A nice bonus for many clients is that they don’t have to talk through the memories; just a few words to let the EMDR therapist know that the memories are moving between bilateral movement sets as you work through EMDR therapy.