Eye Movement Desensitisation & Reprocessing (EMDR)

 

These experiences that pop into your awareness may present themselves as either flashbacks or nightmares, and are thought to occur because the mind was simply too overwhelmed during the event to process what was going on. As a result, these unprocessed memories and the accompanying sights, sounds, thoughts and feelings are stored in the brain in 'raw' form, where they can be accessed each time we experience something that triggers a recollection of the original event. While it isn't possible to erase these memories, the process of Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR) can alter the way these traumatic memories are stored within the brain - making them easier to manage and causing you less distress.


During a stroll in the park, Shapiro made a chance observation that certain eye movements appeared to reduce the negative emotion associated with her own traumatic memories. When she experimented, she found that others also exhibited a similar response to eye movements, and so she set about conducting controlled studies before developing a multiphase approach to trauma reduction.

Today, the therapy is used to treat a wide range of psychological difficulties that typically originate in trauma, such as direct or indirect experiences of violence, accidents or natural disaster. EMDR therapy is also used to treat more prolonged, low-grade distress that originates in shock or loss in adult life and/or issues experienced during childhood. The experiences outlined above often lead to a post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis, for which EMDR has been recommended by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE).


Increasingly, EMDR therapy is also being used for the treatment of other issues including:

  • depression
  • performance anxiety
  • phobias and fears
  • anxiety
  • low self-esteem.

Reported benefits of EMDR include:

  • A reduction in re-experiencing trauma memories.
  • Feeling more able to cope with and manage trauma memories 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 hypervigilance - allowing you to rest well, address pressure and/or conflict and go about your daily business without feeling fearful and prone to panic.
  • Reduced feelings of isolation, hopelessness and depression.
  • A boost in self-confidence and self-esteem.
How does EMDR work?


When traumatic events occur, the body's natural cognitive and neurological coping mechanisms can be overwhelmed and subsequently the memory is inadequately processed and stored in an isolated network.


The goal of EMDR therapy is to properly process these traumatic memories, reducing their impact and helping clients to develop coping mechanisms. This is done through an eight-phase approach to address the past, present, and future aspects of a stored memory, requiring clients to recall distressing events while receiving bilateral sensory input, including:

  • side to side eye movements
  • hand tapping
  • auditory tones.