Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR)
EMDR is recommended along-side Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) in the NICE guidelines for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder and other trauma related presentations. EMDR has been shown to be effective in a large number of research trails. There is on-going investigation into the exact mechanism by which is works; we know that it appears to mimic what the brain does naturally during Rapid Eye Movements (REM) sleep.
When an individual is traumatised, he/she may experience such strong emotions that their brain becomes overwhelmed and is unable to process information as it usually does. Distressing experiences become ‘frozen in time’ and are stored in the brain in their original ‘raw’ form. This means that they can then be repeatedly remembered as if you are reliving the experience, as intrusive memories or recurrent nightmares. Remembering in these ways may feel as bad as experiencing it the first time because your sensory experiences (images, sounds, smells, and feelings) don’t change or update. These symptoms may start affecting how you see yourself, the world and other people. You may find that it is affecting many aspects of your life.
EMDR supports the brain to work through distressing material using a natural process called Adaptive Information Processing. Your therapist will help to reprocess your traumatic memories while guiding you to engage in bilateral stimulation of the brain (normally through eye movements but can also be in the form of sound or touch). Following successful EMDR treatment, memories of traumatic events are no longer upsetting when brought to mind. What happened can still be recalled, but it is no longer distressing.
As with all the therapies we offer, a comprehensive assessment is the starting point. If we agree to proceed with EMDR, then we initially focus on preparing you for the processing work, so you have resources to manage difficult feelings both in sessions and between sessions. Resource building remains a focus again later on, to support you to approach new situations with confidence and return to some of the activities you have been avoiding that you would like to do again.
Assessment and preparation sessions in EMDR last 50 minutes; more intensive processing sessions last 90 minutes.