The River

by EMDR Australia
Creek meandering between the mangroves

In our latest post on the “Reflections on EMDR” blog we learn more about how EMDR works as Dr. Gillian Maddock discusses how EMDR helps to process traumatic memories using the river metaphor.

 Q: “What does EMDR do with traumatic memories?”

When asked how best to understand the way EMDR works, we talk about the Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) model. Shapiro described traumatic information that becomes stuck using a metaphor of a train – blocked from making way along train tracks.  Or frozen like a computer freezing.  When I was part of a group providing EMDR Institute Basic Training to clinicians living and working in the Pasifika region, it was clear that those metaphors were not organic enough.

“… rather than changing the course of the river, EMDR is like clearing the debris and then the river can naturally flow again.”

I came up with the idea of describing the mind, or psyche, as a river. A river naturally flows if not impeded. A river never flows backwards – always in one direction – with the path of least resistance. The flow can become blocked with debris, but rather than changing the course of the river, EMDR is like clearing the debris and then the river can naturally flow again.

The famous Greek philosopher Heraclitus famously said, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” At first glance, this quote may seem perplexing, and you might wonder what this has to do with EMDR, but this speaks to the fact that EMDR is a trait change therapy, rather than state change approach. Reprocessed material that has been fully reprocessed with EMDR does not arise in our clients the same way twice, no matter how long it is between sessions.

EMDR training can be undertaken by a range of clinical disciplines. I invite you to join us in learning EMDR. Course details and eligibility can be found on our EMDR training page.

Have more questions about EMDR?  Head over to our page of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)!

In my first blog post, “Why EMDR?”, I explained how and why Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy became part of my practice. My research and training revealed EMDR’s significant benefits for clients dealing with trauma. This discovery has profoundly enhanced my therapeutic approach. For more details, check out the full post here.

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