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Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an interactive psychotherapy technique used to relieve psychological stress and trauma. It is an effective treatment for trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
I passionately believe in the effectiveness of EMDR for trauma work having personally benefited from this therapy during 12 weeks of EMDR treatment and processing during 2014, and now having trained as an EMDR practitioner. Contact me to discuss how this further or how EMDR can help you experience fast and powerful relief from distress caused by trauma and phobia. In fact the NHS recognises and promotes the use of EMDR in the treatment of PTSD see https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng116
What’s intriguing about EMDR is how well it works…it does not work through fuguring things out and understanding. But it activates some natural processes in the brain that’s helped you integrate past memories. It’s something invented by Francine Shapiro who found out that if you move your eyes from side to side as you think about distressing memories, that the memories lose their power.
Bessel.A Van Der Kolk author of ‘The body keeps the score’ (published by Penguiin books)
What can be expected
Unlike other talking therapies, EMDR relies on brain processes rather than figuring things out and making sense of past traumas. During EMDR therapy sessions, you relive traumatic or triggering experiences in brief doses while the therapist directs your eye movements.
Over time, this technique is believed to lessen the impact that the memories or thoughts have on you. So memories filed in the emotionally charged fight, freeze, or flight part of the brain after EMDR are filed in the brain with memories that are charged with less emotion such as a past holiday.
EMDR is supported by extensive clinical research. The EMDR Institute in the US for example comments on results of more than 30 positive controlled outcome studies have been done on EMDR therapy. Some of the studies show that 84%-90% of single-trauma victims no longer have post-traumatic stress disorder after only three 90-minute sessions.
How does it differ from other talking therapies
Phase 1 discussion and agreement
We would discuss different ways to cope with the stress and emotional trauma you are experiencing. I would do some psycho education with you and share options re talking therapies and EMDR and what it might be the best way of working with the issue. We agree a treatment plan together.
Phase 2 assessment
We will identify the specific memories that will be targeted and all the associated components (such as the physical sensations that are stimulated when you concentrate on an event) for each target memory.
Phase 3 treatment
We will then begin using EMDR therapy techniques to treat your targeted memories. During these sessions, you will be asked to focus on a negative thought, memory, or images. Simultaneously I will have you do specific eye movements, following the movement of my hand left to right.
After the bilateral stimulation, I will ask you to let your mind go blank and notice the thoughts and feelings you’re having spontaneously. After you identify these thoughts, may have you refocus on that traumatic memory, or move on to another memory of image. Over time, the distress over particular thoughts, images, or memories should start to fade.
Phase 4 evaluation
In the final phase, you’ll be asked to evaluate yourself your progress after these sessions and typically this is recorded on a scale of 1 – 10 and 1 – 7 where you assess progress.
Three reasons to choose to work with EMDR therapy
- EMDR therapy benefits all types of trauma victims. EMDR therapy helps people of all ages and backgrounds suffering from all types of trauma – severe or not. Trauma and PTSD don’t just occur as a result of major, horrible events, such as abuse, accidents, natural disasters, or battlefield experiences. Trauma also results from less severe events, like hurtful childhood experiences, dysfunctional family dynamics, anxiety, depression, or the loss of a loved one to death.
- EMDR good for people who struggle to talk about their experience. EMDR is particularly valuable for people who may not wish to talk about a trauma or feel unable to find the right words. There’s no need for you to talk extensively about your trauma aloud. Prolonged exposure therapy or where a client patient needs to describe their traumatic memory in great detail can lead to further traumatising. In contrast, EMDR sessions require only that you focus briefly on the disturbing memory while you’re during the processing phase. Your brain handles the rest of the work.
- EMDR therapy is quick compared to other therapies. Typically when working with EMDR we would look to treat the trauma within 5 – 10 sessions, and this is quicker than working with other therapies and trauma. This is particularly beneficial for people who wish to work with a trauma but cannot commit to longer term therapy.