What is EMDR?
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR), is a powerful psychological therapy that was developed by American clinical psychologist, Francine Shapiro in the 1980’s.It is a therapy used to help people recover from distressing events and the problems they have caused, like flashbacks, upsetting thoughts or images, depression or anxiety.
EMDR is recognised by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Can EMDR help You?
EMDR is best known for its effectiveness in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is widely used by the NHS, charitable organisations and private sector, and the Ministry of Defence use EMDR to help service personnel with PTSD.
EMDR therapy can be used for the treatment of:
• PTSD – traumatic, disturbing or overwhelming life events
• Anxiety and panic attacks
• Fears & Phobias
• Complex Grief
• Performance anxiety & low self-esteem
What happens when you are traumatised?
If you become traumatised by an overwhelming event such as a car accident or by being repeatedly subjected to distress such as childhood abuse or neglect, your natural coping mechanism can become overloaded. This overloading can result in distressing experiences remaining frozen in your brain or being ‘unprocessed”. These memories can be continually triggered when you experience events similar to the difficult experiences you have been through. Often the memory itself is long forgotten, but the painful and distressing feelings such as anxiety, panic, anger or despair are continually triggered in the present. EMDR can resolve the impact of your past traumas and allow you to live more fully in the present.
What is and EMDR session like?
EMDR utilised the natural healing ability of your body. After a thorough assessment, you will be asked specific questions about any disturbing memories. Eye movements, similar to those during REM sleep, will be recreated either by following a bar of moving lights or watching your therapist’s fingers move backwards and forwards across your visual field. The eye movements will last for a short while and then stop. You will then be asked to briefly report to your therapist on the experiences you have had during each of these sets of eye movements. Your experiences may include changes in thoughts, emotions, images and body sensations.
With repeated sets of eye movements, the memory tends to change in such a way that is loses its painful intensity and simply becomes a neutral memory of an event which was in the past. Other associated memories may heal at the same time. This linking of related memories can lead to a dramatic and rapid improvement in many aspects of your life.
How long does treatment take?
EMDR is usually delivered one or two times per week for a total of 6-12 sessions, although some people may require fewer sessions. EMDR sessions can be for 60 to 90 minutes.
Your therapist will discuss your requirements and treatment plan during your assessment.
Will I remain in control and empowered?
During EMDR treatment, you will remain in control, fully alert and wide-awake. This is not a form of hypnosis and you can stop the process at any time. Throughout the session, your therapist will support and facilitate your own self-healing and intervene as little as possible. Reprocessins is usually experienced a something that happens spontaneously, and new connections and insights are felt naturally from within.
How effective is EMDR?
When a person’s mental health problems have their roots in a distressing life event, EMDR can be very effective very quickly. Studies have shown that EMDR can significantly decrease PTSD symptoms in just two or three sessions, and that the effect is long lasting (e.g. Ironson, Freund, Strauss, & Williams, 2002; Scheck, Schaeffer, & Gillette, 1998). People who have experienced several traumatic events, neglect or poor treatment as children usually need more sessions than this.