EMDR was developed by American psychologist Francine Shapiro and stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.
It was originally developed to be used to treat PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and is recommended by the UK’s National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE 2005). Practitioners are also finding it effective in the treatment of a range of other anxiety related disorders.
The mind can often heal itself naturally, in the same way as the body does and EMDR utilises the natural healing ability of your body and appears to mimic what the brain does naturally on a daily basis 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.
Sometimes when the mind becomes overwhelmed with a distressing event this can become frozen in one part of the brain and remain there unprocessed in the form of physical sensations and emotions. These sensations and emotions are then often triggered in the present any time we are in a similar situation and cause us to feel symptoms of anxiety, panic, anger or despair.
Your ability to live in the present and learn from new experiences can therefore become inhibited. EMDR helps create the connections between your brain’s memory networks, enabling your brain to process the traumatic or distressing memory in a very natural way.
After a thorough assessment, you will be asked specific questions about a particular disturbing memory. Eye movements, similar to those during REM sleep, will be recreated simply by asking you to watch the therapist’s finger moving backwards and forwards across your visual field.
The eye movements will last for a short while and then stop. You will then be asked to report back on the experiences you have had during each of these sets of eye movements. Experiences during a session may include changes in thoughts, images and feelings.
With repeated sets of eye movements, the memory tends to change in such a way that it loses its painful intensity and simply becomes a neutral memory of an event in the past. Other associated memories may also heal at the same time. This linking of related memories can lead to a dramatic and rapid improvement in many aspects of your life.
This will depend on the nature of your presenting problem, but It is generally a short-term therapy although multiple traumas can take longer to treat clients may begin to experience some breakthrough in just one session.