Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing or EMDR is an innovative therapeutic technique that is used to treat PTSD, anxiety, panic and depression.
EMDR was developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro in 1991. Dr. Shapiro formulated a theory that some traumatic memories get stuck in the right or emotional side of our brain rather than getting filed away in the left or logical side.
When these memories are stored in the right side of the brain, other experiences that follow the same brain path as the original trauma will also trigger the same traumatic response. So a trauma that involves a feeling of not being safe will be triggered anytime you feel your safety is threatened.
An example of this is a war veteran being triggered by any sound that reminds him or her of an explosion. The veteran will hear a noise and go into a flight-or-fight response because the brain believes one's life could be in danger.
To resolve the misfiling of the memory using EMDR, you think about the traumatic memory while simultaneously receiving alternating bilateral atimulation. This stimulation is provided by either eye movements or by using a device that is held in the left and right hands and alternately buzzes.
The alternating brain stimulation causes the memory to be reprocessed and moved to the left side of the brain. There the memory no longer causes the person to have a traumatic reaction when he or she is triggered.
This sounds unusual but more than once I have seen someone come in and have their PTSD symptoms resolve in just a few sessions. A person who is afraid to drive on the freeway after a car accident can often find relief in one session where a person who has had serious multiple traumas will take longer to resolve their symptoms.
If you decide to do EMDR you should find a therapist who is either Level II trained or certified in the technique. For more information on the research behind EMDR please go to www.emdr.com.