When people are traumatised, they may experience such strong emotions the brain is overwhelmed. As a result, the brain is unable to cope with or process information as it does ordinarily. Distressing experiences become 'frozen in time'. They are stored in the brain in the original 'raw' form and can recur as 'action replays' or intrusive memories. The person repeatedly relives the original unpleasant event(s). Remembering a trauma may feel as bad as experiencing it the first time because the images, sounds, smells, and feelings haven't changed. Such memories have a lasting negative effect on the way people see themselves, the world and other people. It can affect parts or all of their lives, including their ability to work or study.
EMDR seems to directly influence the way that the brain functions. It helps to restore normal ways of dealing with problems (ie information processing). Following successful EMDR treatment, memories of the event are no longer painful when brought to mind. What happened can still be recalled, but it is less upsetting. EMDR appears to mimic what the brain does naturally on a daily basis during dreaming or REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. EMDR can be thought of as an inherently natural therapy which assists the brain in working through distressing material.
Research studies have shown that EMDR can markedly accelerate the healing process after a traumatic experience and that the effects are long-lasting. There are now more scientifically controlled studies on the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with EMDR than with any other form of psychological treatment. EMDR is highly effective, preferred by clients and generally of shorter duration than other treatment methods. The National Institute of Clinical Excellence recommends the use of EMDR for PTSD.
EMDR often resolves emotional disturbances and trauma where other therapies have failed.