Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an extremely effective treatment for anxiety, some forms of depression, PTSD, and other issues. It is essentially a fast track therapy – studies show that distressing symptoms can be alleviated more rapidly with EMDR than with talk therapy alone.

I became interested in EMDR when I saw the research on its effectiveness in treating a wide range of issues. It’s a fascinating therapy treatment that looks at the events we experience, whether big or small and particularly if they’re distressing, and how the memories are stored in our brain. They are filed away along with the emotions, body sensations, and beliefs we held about ourselves at the time of the event. Negative, upsetting events can get stuck and remain unprocessed due to the high level of disturbance experienced at the time. This could be a major event like an assault or accident, or it could be a much smaller event like a parent being critical, angry, or scared.

This all gets stored in our brain and informs our reaction to present triggers. Our reaction to these triggers can get in the way of relationships and our emotional well being. EMDR helps us make better sense of what happened and we can start to think of it more ‘adaptively’ (in a healthier way) so that we can start to heal.

Interestingly, EMDR is often used to improve sports or work performance when negative beliefs might be impacting a person’s achievements. Imagine a football player making a bad play that affects the score in a major game. They might start believing they’re not good enough. EMDR targets this negative belief and the events that fed into it and helps them manage the thoughts that could be holding them back. As you can imagine EMDR is also effective in coaching creative artists and business executives. It is proven to make a positive difference to a person’s performance.

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