A therapy we have recently been asked to feature on ‘let’s talk’ is known by the acronym EMDR. This stands for Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing and it was developed as a psychological therapy by American clinical psychologist, Dr Francine Shapiro, in the 1980s. Dr Shapiro also published the first research papers supporting the benefits of the therapy in the 1989.
EMDR is a technique that has been found to be helpful for those suffering from:
- accident or injury
- anxiety or panic
- fears and phobias
- childhood trauma and abuse
- post traumatic stress
- low self-esteem
Negative experiences in life can lead to overwhelming feelings that the brain is unable to process and make sense of, resulting in the memory being frozen or ‘stuck’. The memories are stored alongside associated thoughts, emotions and sensations, so when for some reason the memory is recalled the person experiences the full range of sensations associated with the original event – even to the smell, the taste and the feelings they had at the time. Often the event is repressed to avoid constantly experiencing the distress of recall.
The goal of EMDR is to facilitate the processing of disturbing and isolated memories. In the process these distressing memories seem to lose their intensity, thus becoming less distressing and more like ‘ordinary’ memories. This reduces the distress and offers insight into the experience and any subsequent negative thoughts.
The way EMDR works in practice is by stimulation of the ‘frozen’ (or blocked) information processing system. This is achieved by activating both sides of the brain using eye movements or taps alternating across left-right sides of the body.
How the effect is produced is not certain, but it is believed to be similar to when your eyes rapidly move from side to side during natural REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement) .
Research has shown benefits, particularly to those suffering from PTSD and is also recommended by The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE).
You can learn more about what to expect from the EMDR Association.
We have a skilled EMDR therapist working here at The Terrace. Registered clinical psychologist Karen Green has many years experience across a number of different psychological therapies, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), family work, psychotherapy and EMDR, and can tailor an approach to suit the needs of each client. If you would like to know more, contact us today for a confidential discussion and to see how Karen might be able to help you . Email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01823 338968.