This form of therapy is for people who continue to suffer from consequences of a shocking, traumatic experience manifesting themselves, among other things, in having nightmares, re-experiences or flashbacks. The beginning of EMDR therapy focuses on the cause and background of the symptoms. In addition, an appraisal is made of a number of individual characteristics, including personal bearing capacity and the burden of one’s symptoms. The therapist will work with the client to identify and gather more information about the traumatic events and to determine which images to work with. Then the coping process is started where you are asked to think back to the event, including the associated images, thoughts and feelings. This is done in conjunction with a distracting stimulus, such as a sound or light pulse. After such a “set,” rest is taken and reflect on thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations that have arisen and a new set is started.

By repeating this process and working through the various identified images/memories, the intense anxious charge of the memories is reduced and the symptoms may subside. The traumatic memory does remain a memory but it is no longer so overwhelming to think about this: it can have a place within yourself. It is also expected that situations in the here and now that previously evoked the trauma response are less triggering. This can also create space, through follow-up treatment, to work on possible underlying patterns or difficulties that may still be present. Examples include depressive symptoms, self-image problems and difficulties in relationships.

Note: Should there be complex trauma or multiple trauma, we may decide to refer to more trauma-specialized settings.