Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR)

Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR)

What Is EMDR?

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing) therapy was originally developed to treat post-traumatic stress disorders, including experiences of war. However, it’s since been found to have far reaching applications for many different types of disorders. Today, EMDR is used by counsellors and psychotherapists to help people with trauma, whether that’s in their personal or professional lives.

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How does EMDR help?

EMDR therapy can be a very powerful treatment for people who have experienced any of the following traumas:

  • violence
  • natural disasters
  • accidents
  • abuse
  • neglect in childhood
  • surgery
  • performance anxiety

EMDR therapy can also help children to cope with trauma and crises. The EMDR therapy stimulates both the left and right sides of the brain, using a range of techniques including hand movements, alternating lights or vibrating sensors, while the client recalls the event which is the cause of the trauma (or traumas).

The effect of EMDR is similar to Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, during which the brain makes sense of the day’s events, reprocessing the memory and releasing negative emotions and associations. If you would like to find out if we could help you, we invite you to contact us.

What can you expect from a session? A case study.

David was a 40-year-old man who began to have flashbacks to a traumatic event in the past. Whilst he had been at university, he had been assaulted by a man who attacked him when he was withdrawing money from an ATM.

David tried to put the incident behind him but he did start to binge eat and gained 10 pounds during the next year at university. He noticed through the years that he became startled when he heard footsteps behind him or when he heard sudden noises.

EMDR was recommended for the flashbacks that began to trouble him. David’s ‘target symptom’ was the assault. David re-experienced the shock and terror of the assault, reliving the scene in his mind and body. Then he let it go as if he were on a train watching the event become smaller and smaller until it disappeared from memory. Finally it was gone and in the past.

The next memory that came up during the processing was when he was a small child in the hospital having his tonsils removed. He felt safe with his mother beside him, but then the nurses wheeled him away to the operating room. He remembered screaming and feeling suffocated when they held him down and the doctor put a black ether mask over his face. As he relived the memory, he relaxed his breathing and felt in control of it. Then he let this memory go, too.

In both instances, David had believed that he was helpless. Through EMDR, his negative belief that he was helpless, changed to “I can take care of myself.”