What is EMDR?
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy, which allows people who have experienced disturbing life events to overcome emotional distress and associated symptoms. Repeated studies have shown EMDR to be a highly effective therapy in the treatment of PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) and specifically in helping people who suffer from trauma, anxiety, panic, disturbing memories, and many other emotional problems. Whereas traditional psychotherapy can take months or even years to show improvements, EMDR allows the mind to heal from psychological trauma in a few sessions. The mind heals from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma. When you cut your hand, your body works to close the wound. If a foreign object or repeated injury irritates the wound, it festers and causes pain. Once the block is removed, the healing process resumes. EMDR therapy demonstrates that a similar sequence of events occurs with mental processes. If the system is blocked, i.e. a person has not overcome a personal trauma, the emotional wound festers and can cause intense suffering. Once the block is removed, the brain’s information processing system naturally moves toward positive mental health.
More than 30 positive controlled outcome studies have been done on EMDR therapy. These studies showed that 84%-90% of single-trauma victims no longer had post-traumatic stress disorder after only three 90-minute sessions. There has been so much research on EMDR therapy that it is now recognised as an effective form of treatment for trauma and other disturbing experiences by organisations such as the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organisation and the Department of Defence. Given the worldwide recognition as an effective treatment of trauma, you can easily see how EMDR therapy would be effective in treating the “everyday” memories that are the reason people suffer a myriad of mental health issues as well as associated physical complaints. Millions of people have been treated successfully over the past 25 years.
What does the treatment involve?
EMDR sessions can last up to 90 minutes. The number of EMDR sessions you will require will depend on your history and the severity of your issues, although most clients require 1-4 sessions. In the initial consultation, we will have a detailed discussion, where we look over your medical history and any current health issues and concerns you may have. From this, I will produce a tailored treatment plan and we will agree specific targets for the treatment. One of the unusual and often appealing features of EMDR is that, as a client, you do not need to discuss any disturbing memories or events in detail. Although some individuals are comfortable, and even prefer, giving specifics, you may prefer to present more of a general picture or outline. Either way, the treatment is equally effective.
During the first EMDR session, I will ensure that you feel comfortable and ready to embark on the treatment. We will establish a safe place, which you can access at any time during the treatment if you feel distressed. When the session begins, I will ask you to hold different aspects of the event or thought in your mind. Whilst you focus on the memory, I will simultaneously engage you in EMDR processing using sets of bilateral stimulation. As this happens, internal associations arise, and your mind will begin to process the memory and disturbing feelings. Harvard researchers believe this process is connected to the biological mechanisms involved in Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep.
By the end of each session, I will ensure we have established closure, allowing you to leave the session feeling better than at the beginning. If the processing of the traumatic target event is not complete in a single session, I will assist you in using a variety of self-calming techniques in order to regain a sense of equilibrium. I was also advise you on self-help techniques you can apply at home.
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