Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR) is an extensively researched and evidenced based psychotherapy. The aim of the therapy is to identify and process traumatic and other distressing experiences and memories that continue to cause disturbance for the individual.
Our brain has a natural way of healing when we experience disturbing events: the events are processed and stored as memories without causing disturbance when accessing them. However at times, your coping ability may be overloaded for example with childhood trauma or being involved in a car accident or being assaulted.
If we are unable to process events in the normal way, these can become ‘stuck’ in the limbic part of the brain and may be replayed over and over again with the associated emotional responses. Being triggered means that the painful feelings are being felt in the present even though the original event has passed. This of course can be incredibly distressing for an individual and potentially impact on our lives daily.
The concept of EMDR is to stimulate one side of the brain followed quickly by the other to help the thinking brain on the left communicate with the feeling brain on the right, to process ‘stuck’ memories or feelings. This is achieved with ‘bilateral stimulation’ using visual, auditory or tactile aids, for example, lightbars, handsets, audio sets or tapping.
EMDR therapy focusses on processing the original event or feeling and to enable to brain to achieve its natural healing process. EMDR therapy can usually be completed in fewer sessions than other psychotherapies.
Therapists use EMDR with a wide range of issues:
● anxiety, panic attacks, and phobias ● chronic Illness and medical issues ● depression and bipolar disorders ● dissociative disorders ● eating disorders ● grief and loss ● pain ● performance anxiety ● personality disorders ● PTSD and other trauma and stress related issues ● sexual assault ● sleep disturbance ● substance abuse and addiction ● violence and abuse
EMDR is recognised by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the World Health Organisation as the treatment of choice for post-traumatic stress disorder.