Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
EMDR is based on a theoretical Information Processing model which posits that symptoms, confusion, and/or "feeling stuck" arise when experiences in life are inadequately processed. In cases involving traumatic experiences, the disturbing symptoms can be eradicated when the memory is fully processed.
EMDR's most unique aspect is an intregrative combination of bilateral stimulation of the brain (such as bilateral tactile stimulation), coupled with cognitions, visualized images, and awareness of body sensations. EMDR also utilizes dual attention awareness to allow the individual to vacillate between the traumatic material and the safety of the present moment. This prevents retraumatization from exposure to the disturbing memory.
The theory is that EMDR works directly with memory neural networks and enhances information processing by forging associations between the distressing memory and more adaptive information contained in other semantic memory networks. It is thought that the distressing memory is transformed, or reprocessed, when new connections are forged with more positive, adaptive, and realistic information. This results in a transformation of the emotional, sensory, and cognitive components of the memory so that, when it is accessed, the individual is no longer distressed. Instead he/she recalls the incident with a new perspective, new insight, resolution of the cognitive distortions, elimination of emotional distress, and relief of related physiological arousal.