What is EMDR?
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychological therapy proven to be an effective and rapid evidence based treatment for people who have experienced some sort of traumatic experience. Trauma experiences include experiences such as being involved in a car accident, physical or sexual assault, childhood abuse, earthquakes, bank robberies, and so on. Traumatic memories may also be linked to personal humiliations, major disappointments, betrayals, and bereavement. Numerous controlled studies have found EMDR to be a highly effective approach to Trauma therapy as well as in the treatment of other emotional disorders, including:
- Panic attacks
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Excessive grief reaction
- Physical Pain
- Performance Anxiety
How does EMDR work?
When a traumatic event occurs, processing usually occurs in which the experience becomes a ‘story’, which upon recall is less emotionally intense than when it was first experienced. Sometimes, however, the experience does not get processed and becomes ‘locked’ into the brain, stored with all the original thoughts, emotions, beliefs, body sensations and even sounds, smells and tastes. When the memory is triggered, so too are these unpleasant feelings and distress, often reported as feeling like a ‘flashback’, or reliving the experience.
EMDR enables the brain to process the trauma in an accelerated, safe way using alternating eye movements, hand tapping or sounds. The original traumatic experience becomes transformed into a new, adaptive and less emotionally charged memory that is firmly in the past. So, whilst EMDR does not remove any memories or help you to forget, what it can do for you is remove/reduce the fear and bodily sensations that were associated with them, enabling you to let go and reclaim your life.
What happens during treatment?
An assessment and preparation stage is completed prior to the processing sessions of treatment. Information is gathered regarding the traumatic memory and the client’s ability to handle high levels of emotion. If needed, the client will be taught a range of self-care strategies to enable them to cope with any intense emotional states that may arise during or between sessions. Typically, a reprocessing session will be 90 minutes long, allowing enough time for the memory to be reprocessed and the client to return to a calm state of mind.