Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) for trauma
EMDR is a type of trauma therapy based on the idea that rapid eye movements (REM) can help the brain process disturbing memories following a traumatic experience.
EMDR involves recalling a traumatic or stressful event while moving the eyes in a certain way to mimic the REM process that occurs when we sleep. EMDR is not a talking therapy and there will be no requirement to reveal the painful memory, although some people find it helpfulf to do so.
While EMDR is mainly used for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), success has also been reported with the following issues: panic attacks, performance anxiety, eating disorders and body dysmorphic issues, phobias, stress, addictions, physical / sexual abuse, grief, pain disorders and personality disorders.
How does EMDR work?
Strong emotions can sometimes get in the way of our ability to process upsetting or stressful events and this can result in the event being 'frozen' and repeating itself over and over again. EMDR can help ‘unfreeze’ the upsetting memories and enable them to be processed properly. Over the course of therapy, the upsetting memory and whatever beliefs or emotions you associate with it will be worked through until you are able to think about the event without experiencing the same level of anxiety or distress you initially associated with it. The memory will still be there after therapy, but it will not be as distressing or painful as before.
Is there evidence that EMDR works?
Scientific research has shown EMDR to be effective for problems related to trauma such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and different types of phobias, although it is not the best choice of trauma therapy for everyone. It is also important to say that it is not suitable for all types of psychological trauma or difficulty, and therefore the EMDR practitioner will always undertake a thorough assessment with each client before agreeing that EMDR is the right type of approach to take. In some instances, such as where things are very complicated or a client struggles to manage things when they are distressed, EMDR may not be seen as suitable and therefore alternative approaches may be suggested – either as a way of building up to EMDR or as an alternative approach with the aim of achieving the same outcome through different means.
How do I find out more about EMDR?
We would be delighted to answer any questions you may have about EMDR and our other trauma services or to book an appointment for you with one of our experienced practitioners. Please contact us.