What is EMDR?
EMDR (Eye Movement and Desensitisation Therapy) is a form of psychotherapy that uses right /left brain stimulation to heal trauma
EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing. It is a psychotherapy that has been proven to be effective in treating trauma, and is recommended by the UK's National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Practitioners are also finding it effective in the treatment of other anxiety related disorders.
A wealth of research has been conducted demonstrating the benefits of EMDR in treating psychological trauma arising from experiences as diverse as war related experiences, childhood abuse or neglect, natural disaster, assault, road traffic accidents and workplace accidents. Recent research also suggests benefits of using EMDR in treating a number of conditions including depression and chronic pain. EMDR has been found to be of benefit to children as well as adults.
How does it work?
When an individual is traumatised, he/she may experience such strong emotions that their brain becomes overwhelmed. The brain consequently is unable to cope with, or process information as it usually does. Distressing experiences become ‘frozen in time’. Such events are stored in the brain in their original ‘raw’ form and can then be repeatedly remembered as ‘action replays’ or intrusive memories. As a consequence the person repeatedly relives the original unpleasant event/s. Such memories have a lasting negative effect on the way a person sees themselves, the world and other people. It can have a profoundly negative effect on all aspects of their lives.
EMDR seems to directly influence the way that the brain functions. It helps to restore normal ways of dealing with problems (i.e. information processing). Following successful EMDR treatment, memories of such events are no longer painful when brought to mind. What happened can still be recalled, but it is no longer upsetting. EMDR therapy appears to mimic what the brain does naturally during dreaming or REM (Rapid Eye Movements) sleep. EMDR can be thought of as an inherently natural therapy which assists the brain in working through distressing material utilising a natural process, this is called Adaptive Information Processing.
What does it involve?
EMDR therapists help clients reprocess their traumatic memories by using a process that involves repeated left-right (bilateral) stimulation of the brain while noticing different aspects of the traumatic memory. It is believed that the bilateral stimulation of EMDR creates biochemical changes in the brain that aid processing of information.
Research studies have shown that EMDR can markedly accelerate the healing process after a traumatic experience and that the effects are long lasting. In fact, there are now more scientifically controlled studies on the treatment of post traumatic stress disorders with EMDR than with any other form of psychological treatment.
EMDR is highly effective, often preferred by clients and generally of shorter duration than other treatment methods. EMDR integrates a range of psychological therapies within a comprehensive framework to effect therapeutic change. Therapists report recognising similarities to approaches they are familiar with, but they also observe therapeutic changes not normally achieved with their original approaches.