The keys to understanding what EMDR therapy consists of

If you have ever heard someone say that they are in EMDR therapy (for its acronym in English “Eyes Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing”) and that “eye movements” help them a lot to process and work with what is happens, you may have wondered what exactly EMDR therapy is and how it works.

In this short article I tell you a little about the scientific bases that support this model of therapy. how are eye movements or “bilateral stimulation” used as a medium through which the mind retreats from traumatic events or situations, of great emotional charge, experienced as disturbing. This reprocessing manages to decrease or eliminate the “abnormal or extreme” sensitivity to these circumstances (so-called desensitization), allowing the person to live their life without the pain and discomfort caused by them.

What is a therapeutic intervention with EMDR?

To begin with, we know that experiencing a situation negatively or experiencing trauma can affect how information is processed. Thus, the perception of this fact is stored with an important emotional charge, dependent on the state experienced while living the situation, and which can manifest itself in the form of physical and/or psychological symptoms.

In this way, both sensory information (images, sounds, flavors, etc.) and thoughts, emotions, sensations and beliefs about this situation are stored in memory (physical and psychological) with an intense negative charge and they trigger spontaneously when a present situation activates them, affecting the person’s daily life.

It is precisely in this storage of the traumatic experience that EMDR therapy will have an effect, with the main objective of making it live in a more adaptive way. EMDR therapy is not a simple technique of eye movements following the therapist’s hand; be able to apply the knowledge and have significant benefits certain phases must be followed in the treatmentto know the story of the person who consults us to assess whether this type of therapy is suitable for the person and what they want to obtain from the treatment.

The stages of the therapeutic process with EMDR

To access the storage of a traumatic experience, the psychotherapist – with the help of the consultant – begins by collect information about your storydefine the goals of psychotherapy and establish what are called “targets” of treatment.

Past or present memories that gave rise to the problem you are suffering from are explored, as well as whether there is a related initial event in the past; it also follows the symptoms that the person presents at the physical and psychological level and if there is a diagnosis. In this way, one identifies what triggers the problem in the present and also the skills that can be learned to deal with it in the future.

After this first step, it is essential that the therapist accompanies the person through different exercises to check that they are comfortable for them, that they feel safe and that they can start working with bilateral stimulation. This can be done in various ways, such as, for example, moving the eyes from side to side horizontally (or diagonally), with light gentle strokes of your hands on the legs, alternating one and the other, or in the upper part of the chest (the so-called “butterfly hug”).

Through bilateral stimulation, each specified “target” is worked on. While this is being done and the established protocol is being followed for the stimulation to perform its function at the brain level, interviewees generally explain that memory is more distant, that they feel better about the situation, think differently from themselves and therefore the physical sensations associated with the traumatic experience disappear.

This does not mean that the situation causing the discomfort or problem is forgotten.; it is still remembered, but in a more distant way, as belonging to the past and being looked at from a more mature and therefore more functional point of view.

It should be noted that in general, during an EMDR session, the therapist does not intervene with words so as not to interfere with the reprocessing that the patient is doing while the bilateral stimulation is in progress. Classes. What is essential here is the connection of information within memory and between memories that occurs within the client and occurs spontaneously.


Currently, there is no complete answer as to why this type of stimulation helps information reprocessing; It is still under study to give an answer also to the how. However, EMDR is scientifically backed and recognized for the successful treatment of trauma and trauma (yes, with a capital T and a lowercase t), including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In this same way, EMDR therapy treatment is known to affect different areas of the brain which seem to have a fundamental role in changing memory from a more emotional perspective to a more cognitive and integrated one that alleviates the suffering associated with the experience.

If you are going through a bad period in your life and want to live a day more in line with what you want, working with circumstances that have already passed, but are still affecting you in one way or another, n don’t hesitate: Contact me. Don’t wait any longer to free yourself and live the life you want and deserve.

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