Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR)
If something traumatic has happened to you (whether it be a car accident, abuse or something seemingly less significant like being humiliated), the memory of your experience may come crashing back into your mind, forcing you to relive the original event with the same intensity of feeling – like it is taking place in the present moment. 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.
What is EMDR? Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for various treatments. EMDR is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches. 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).
Goals of EMDR
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
Increasingly, EMDR therapy is also being used for the treatment of other issues including:
- performance anxiety
- phobias and fears
- low self-esteem
To date, EMDR therapy has helped millions of people of all ages.