What is EMDR?
Thirdly, EMDR has been shown to be more time-efficient than talk-based therapies, because several areas of the brain are involved at once. However, the overall time EMDR therapy takes will still depend on a range of factors such as: whether the target or source of difficulties is a single event (e.g. a car crash, an assault) or linked to multiple events (e.g. difficult or abusive upbringing), current life circumstances and any stress management skills (and other "resources") already available to the person. Longer standing and more complex difficulties may still take many months of regular appointments.
Will EMDR make me forget the memories we work on?
No. People who successfully complete EMDR treatment report that they do not lose access to the memories targeted, but they no longer "pack the same punch" emotionally when they think of them. Similar situations or reminders in the present, that may previously have resurrected the same deep pain or hurt as target memory, no longer have the same impact.
OK - so what exactly will happen if we do EMDR therapy?
There are several phases in the standard EMDR protocol, more detail of which can be found here. In brief, taking a good history of the problem and preparing you for EMDR are all important parts of EMDR. However, the best known part of EMDR is the "reprocessing" or "desensitization" part. This is where the EMDR therapist will ask you to hold the target memory in mind and focus on a form of bilateral stimulation (BLS) - usually either by following their fingers moving from side ot side (hence "Eye Movement"), tapping on your knees, or - increasingly since COVID-19) - watching a dot or light move from side to side on a latptop screen. This performs the dual task of maintaining part of your attention safely in the here-and-now, and alternately stimulating each side of your brain - much as happens during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep.