What is EMDR?
I offer EMDR as part of my working with you. EMDR is a highly effective treatment often used to treat depression, anxiety, pain management and the effect of painful memories from our past, e.g. bullying in childhood or deeply upsetting experiences which you have not recovered from where flashbacks to these incidents and the associated discomfort keeps reoccurring affecting your well-being and ability to feel that you can cope with life. It is also very helpful for more severe psychological trauma and PTSD arising from experiences as diverse as war related experiences, childhood sexual and/or physical abuse , natural disaster, assault, surgical trauma, road traffic accidents and workplace accidents/incidents. EMDR is also increasingly used to help individuals with other issues including phobias, smoking cessation and wide range of issues.
How does it work?
When a person is involved in a distressing event, they may feel overwhelmed and, therefore, their brain may be unable to process the information like a normal memory. The distressing memory seems to become frozen. When a person recalls the distressing memory, the person can re-experience what they saw, heard, smelt, tasted, thought or felt, and this can be quite intense. Sometimes the memories are so distressing that the person tries to avoid thinking about the distressing event to avoid experiencing the distressing feelings.
Distressing memories come to mind when something reminds them of the distressing event, or sometimes the memories just seem to just pop into mind without warning. The alternating left-right stimulation of the brain with eye movements, sounds or taps during EMDR, seems to stimulate the frozen or blocked information processing system. In the process the memories seem to lose their intensity, so they become less distressing and seem more like ‘ordinary’ memories.
The effect is believed to be similar to that which occurs naturally during REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement) when your eyes rapidly move from side to side. It may also be that getting the client to concentrate on left-right stimulation whilst thinking of the distressing memory stops the brain from becoming overwhelmed and allowing the distressing aspects to be processed. EMDR helps reduce the distress of all the different kinds of memories, whether it is images, sounds, smells, tastes, physical sensations, thoughts or beliefs.
Note: Portions of this text are borrowed from the EMDR Academy website