Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a specialized therapeutic approach to help people alleviate distressful emotions, images, and negative beliefs about that are the result of past traumatic and/or disturbing life events.

When a distressing life event occurs, your brain may not process information as it does ordinarily. One moment becomes "frozen in time" and remembering a trauma may feel as bad as going through it the first time because the images, sounds, smells, and feelings haven't changed. Such memories have a lasting negative effect that interferes with the way a person sees the world and the way they relate to other people.

EMDR seems to have a direct effect on the way that the brain processes information. Normal information processing is resumed, so following a successful EMDR session, a person no longer relives the images, sounds, and feelings when the event is brought to mind. You still remember what happened, but it is significantly less upsetting. Many types of therapy have similar goals. However, EMDR appears to be similar to what occurs naturally during dreaming or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Therefore, EMDR can be thought of as a physiologically based therapy that helps a person see disturbing material in a new and less distressing way.

For more information, go to EMDRIA.org.