What is EMDR?
EMDR stands for ‘eye movement desensitisation reprocessing’ and is a type of therapy designed to help stop difficult memories from causing distress.
Eye movement desensitisation reprocessing (more commonly known as EMDR), is a form of psychotherapy developed in the 1980s by American psychologist Francine Shapiro.
How does EMDR work?
When traumatic events happen, the body’s natural coping mechanisms can be overwhelmed, and subsequently, the memory isn’t always processed adequately.
EMDR therapy looks to help you properly process these traumatic memories, reducing their impact and helping you develop healthy coping mechanisms. This is done through an eight-phase approach to address the past, present, and future aspects of stored memory. This involves recalling distressing events while receiving ‘bilateral sensory input’, including side-to-side eye movements, hand tapping, and auditory tones.
For some people, when something traumatic has happened to them, the memory of their experience comes crashing back into their mind, forcing them to relive the event with the same intensity of feeling – like it’s taking place in the present moment. These experiences may present as flashbacks or nightmares and are thought to occur because the mind was simply too overwhelmed during the event to process what was going on.
As a result, these unprocessed memories and the accompanying sights, sounds, thoughts and feelings are stored in the brain in ‘raw’ form. Here, they can be accessed when something in everyday life triggers a recollection of the original event.
While it isn’t possible to erase these memories, the process of eye movement desensitisation reprocessing (EMDR) can alter the way these traumatic memories are stored within the brain – making them easier to manage.
How EMDR can help your Symptoms
Of course, we are all different, and so what works for one person may not work for another. However, the common aims of EMDR therapy include:
- Reduce re-experiencing trauma memories.
- Help you feel more able to cope with and manage trauma memories without needing to avoid potential triggers.
- Help you feel more able to engage in and enjoy pleasurable activities and relationships.
- Reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, irritation, and hypervigilance – allowing you to rest well, address pressure and/or conflict, and go about your daily business without feeling fearful and prone to panic.
- Reduce feelings of isolation, hopelessness, and depression.
- Boost self-confidence and self-esteem.
- Reduce or stop emotional flashbacks & visual flash backs.
- Reduce or stop the disturbance surrounding the trauma.
Who is EMDR suitable for?
CBT would be suitable for most people who are dealing with any of the issues listed below, or anyone who would like to change the way that they live their life.
What issues or problems are suited to EMDR?
EMDR therapy is increasingly being recommended for issues including:
- low self-esteem
- Phobias and fears
- Complex Bereavement and lost
- Death under traumatic circumstances
Today, the therapy is recommended by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
How many sessions will I have?
This every much depends on the individual client, other factors include the depth, length and servery of the trauma. Also, how long it will take to do a full case history and prepare for EMDR.