When Prince Harry revealed that he has used EMDR, a type of therapy, to help him cope with the loss of his mother, the internet was buzzing. EMDR isn’t new, but it is gaining popularity for how it can help a patient process traumatic experiences.
According to the American Psychological Association, EMDR is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy. It originated in 1987, created to treat PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). The premise is that a “past disturbing experience” creates symptoms due to “unprocessed memories” that “contain the emotions, thoughts, beliefs and physical sensations that occurred at the time of the event.” EMDR therapy “focuses directly on the memory, and is intended to change the way that memory is stored in the brain, thus reducing and eliminating the problematic symptoms.”
An EMDR therapist directs a patient to use eye movements and bilateral stimulation while the patient “briefly focuses on the trauma memory.” If you’re confused by how in the world this actually helps, you aren’t alone. I spoke with Dr. Cassidy Freitas, a licensed marriage and family therapist and podcast host, about EMDR.
Dr. Freitas shared that when she first learned about EMDR, she admitted that it sounded a little “woo-woo.” However, she learned that EMDR is evidence-based, and not only can it help someone with trauma, but also “mood and anxiety disorders, low self-esteem, phobias, grief, loss, and more.” She also experienced EMDR…