EMDR therapy is modeled after the natural functions of the human body that occur during Rapid Eye Movement (REM). The human mind uses REM sleep to process daily emotional experiences. The traumatic experiences are stored in the brain with all the sights, sounds, thoughts, and feelings that accompany them. The raw memories are “trapped” in the central nervous system and therefore cannot be processed normally.
It is somewhat challenging to explain how EMDR produces results because the human brain is so complex. What we do know is that EMDR seems to unblock, unfreeze, and desensitize the information. The traumatic memories can then be processed and adaptively integrated.
EMDR is carried out through various methods – using alternating, left-right, bilateral eye movements, tones, or kinesthetic stimulation. These techniques enhance information processing.
Phases taken from EMDR Institute Inc.
National Center for PTSD:
EMDR and research: