What is EMDR

EMDR is an acronym for ‘Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing’. It is a complex and powerful psychological treatment method that uses protocols and procedures with the goal of reducing distress in the shortness period of time.

The treatment method was developed by Dr Francine Shapiro in the 1980’s in order to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental health problem that some people get after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault.

EMDR is an evidence-based practice and is recommended by The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) as an effective treatment for PTSD. In addition to the treatment of PTSD, research has also shown that EMDR has been successfully used to treat a wide range of other psychological problems.

During EMDR treatment you remain in control, fully alert and wide awake. EMDR utilises the natural process of the mind often being able to ‘heal itself’ naturally, in the same way that the body does. Much of this natural coping mechanism occurs during sleep, particularly rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.

What is an EMDR session like?

After a through assessment and preparations to help you manage the process, you will be asked specific questions about a particular disturbing memory. Eye Movement similar to those during REM sleep, will be recreated simply by asking you to watch the therapist’s finger moving backward and forwards across your visual field. Other forms of left-right alternating stimulation, such as taps, or sounds can also be used.

The eye movements or other stimulation will last for a short while and then stop. The therapist will then ask you to report back on the experiences you had during these sets of eye movements, examples of such experiences may include changes in thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and images.

With repetition, EMDR helps process trauma memory by creating connections between your brain’s memory networks, enabling your brain to process the traumatic memory in a very natural way. The memory tends to change in such a way that it loses its painful intensity and becomes a neutral memory of an event in the past.