What is EMDR Therapy?
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) is a form of psychotherapy developed by clinical psychologist Dr Francine Shapiro in the 1980s. It was originally used for the treatment of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and today is recognized by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the World Health Organization as a treatment of choice for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
What can EMDR help with?
Since it’s introduction into the field of psychotherapy EMDR has been subject to a vast body of clinical trials and research and has been found to be effective for a wide range of issues and symptoms which may or may not be due to trauma:
- Panic Attacks
- Low self esteem
- Complicated Grief
- Abuse (sexual or physical)
- Eating Disorders
What is Trauma?
An experience is said to be traumatic whenever your brain and your body's natural coping mechanisms are overwhelmed. This can happen because of a big ‘T’ trauma such as a road accident or assault or as a result of an accumulation of small ‘t’ traumas, such as distressing experiences in childhood and/or adult life.
In such instances your main priority is to get through it – to survive – and the job of processing experiences into memories can get interrupted. What this means is that the “sensory data” (the images, sounds, smells, thoughts and feelings that make up the memory) are stored in a ‘frozen’ form and you can be triggered to relive them in the present moment, often with a similar intensity to when you first experienced them in the past.
This kind of remembering accounts for flashbacks, intrusive thoughts or images, nightmares as well as pervasive feelings of fear and free- floating anxiety.
How can EMDR help?
The process of Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR) alters the way distressing memories are stored within the brain. You do not need to talk in detail about the distressing experience, and instead you are asked to select a specific picture or scene that best represents it. You are then guided through short sets of Bilateral Stimulation (eye movements or hand taps) and as you do this your own brain will be making the necessary associations and links to “process” the distressing material whilst your therapist ensures that you feel grounded and safe in the present moment with her in the consulting room.
Reported benefits of EMDR include:
- A reduction in re-experiencing trauma memories.
- Feeling more able to cope without needing to avoid potential triggers.
- Feeling more able to engage in and enjoy pleasurable activities and relationships.
- Reduced feelings of stress, anxiety, irritation and hyper-vigilance.
- Reduced feelings of isolation, hopelessness and depression.
- A boost in self-confidence and self-esteem.
How long does EMDR take?
The goal of EMDR therapy is to process completely the experiences that are causing distress, and to equip you with new understanding and perspectives that promote healthy behaviours and relationships. The amount of time the complete treatment depends on the issues each client brings and is therefore difficult to predict, but this is something that we discuss in our first meeting, before you make a commitment.
Sessions can be either 50 minutes or 90 minutes in length and this is discussed and agreed during the assessment stage.
Want to find out more?
Please contact me if you would like to discuss whether EMDR is suitable for you.