In EMDR therapy, the focus is on facilitating the processing of traumatic memories that have become “stuck” or unprocessed. The therapist guides the client through a series of bilateral stimulations, which can include eye movements, taps, or sounds. These bilateral stimulations are thought to mimic the rapid eye movements that occur during the dreaming phase of sleep (REM sleep), which is believed to be involved in memory processing.
During an EMDR session, the client is asked to bring to mind the distressing memory or event while simultaneously attending to the bilateral stimulation. The therapist helps the client navigate through the different aspects of the memory, including thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations, as they arise. The goal is to facilitate the reprocessing of the memory, allowing it to be integrated into the client’s overall memory network in a more adaptive and less distressing way.