EMDR is a type of psychotherapy that resolves the trauma-related disorders caused by exposure to distressing events such as rape, military combat, or other such experiences.
The usual cognitive and neurological coping mechanisms get overwhelmed when someone experiences a traumatic or distressing event. The associated stimuli and memory of the event are inadequately processed, and are dysfunctionally stored in an isolated memory network. The goal of EMDR therapy is to process these distressing memories, reduce their lingering effects, and to allow clients to develop more adaptive coping mechanisms. EMDR is different from other therapies because of its unique element of bilateral stimulation of the brain through the use of eye movements, tones, or tapping during sessions. EMDR also utilizes dual attention awareness to allow the individual to go back and forth between the traumatic material and the safety of the present moment. This can help prevent retraumatization from exposure to the disturbing memory. The theory underlying EMDR treatment is that it works by helping the sufferer process distressing memories more fully which reduces the distress. EMDR has been heavily researched, and has been found to be very effective.