EMDR was developed to resolve symptoms resulting from disturbing and unresolved past experiences. It is an exposure-based treatment that uses a structured method to deal with past, present, and future aspects of disturbing memories. The approach was developed by Francine Shapiro to resolve trauma-related disorders that had resulted from exposure to a traumatic or distressing event, such as rape or military combat. However, trauma can be a result of many life experiences that may not appear at first to be traumatic.

It’s not what happens to a person that creates the trauma but rather how the person responded to the event that leads to the trauma reaction. That does not mean that PTSD is your fault. It just means that how your body responded is the focus of treatment.

For example, I have encountered many people who report seemingly traumatic events but were not traumatized by them. If the person was able to make sense of what was happening, if emotional or physical support was available, if they had resources nearby, then a traumatic event may not result in trauma.

The problem with trauma is that it is unresolved. It is like, the things that happened to you, are stuck in neuro pathways in your brain, and do not know how to resolve themselves. We can tell they are unresolved because they still upset us. At times the past events may show up in our dreams or even waking thoughts and it can upset us greatly. Sometimes we are stuck avoiding the past events, like not driving where the accident occurred and not talking to the people involved in what happened. And then we may even start self-destructive habits like excessive alcohol or drug use to stop ourselves from being as aware of the past experiences.

EMDR is a method of resolving the past experiences by gradually and gently exposing you to the past memories while helping you make new meanings from those experiences about who you are today and what you are still capable of in your future. That may sound scary but it’s actually very manageable and effective.

There are many online articles about EMDR and many YouTube videos that demonstrate this technique. Feel free to do your own research or ask Mark Giesbrecht more about this.

Mark Giesbrecht has had extensive training for the techniques of EMDR and has practiced it since 2001.