What is EMDR?

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing. It is now the most researched and widely used therapy for resolving Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. EMDR integrates elements of many effective psychotherapies in structured protocols that are designed to maximize treatment effects. These include psychodynamic, cognitive behavioural, interpersonal, experiential, and body-centered therapies.

The process was discovered by Francine Shapiro a scientist, who noticed that when she moved her eyes from side to side, her own negative emotions seemed to be dispelled.

It is thought that this mimics the rapid eye movement normally associated with dreaming and also one of the characteristics of being in a state of hypnosis. Rapid eye movement during dreaming is considered to be one way that a person naturally integrates all the day’s experiences and stores them in the right places. Rapid eye movement is also thought to provide a distraction sufficient to allow the mind to consider and process emotions and memories that might otherwise be too painful.

Sometimes, our natural way of processing incidents gets blocked—such as after a traumatic experience.

EMDR is a way of unblocking the emotions and allowing the trauma to be processed naturally. EMDR is fast, effective and provides a permanent therapeutic change in just a few sessions for conditions that may not have been shifted over many years.

The process is particularly powerful because it involves changing negative and unhelpful beliefs about oneself and replacing them with more useful and empowering beliefs.

 

What can EMDR help with?

EMDR is a highly effective therapy in the following situations:

  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Victims of trauma,
  • Phobias and panic disorders
  • Resolving excessive grief
  • Victims of sexual abuse
  • Performance anxiety including sexual performance
  • Chemical dependency
  • People with somatic pain disorders
  • Releasing unresolved negative emotions

The list is continually developing as the numbers of people treated runs into the millions.

 

Can anyone benefit from this therapy?

Yes—the majority of people who have unresolved negative emotions can benefit from EMDR. EMDR forms part of a programme designed to help you become more self confident; have more self belief; better able to make choices; be more in control of how you feel; be more in control of your life. EMDR combined with hypnotherapy is particularly effective.

 

What happens during the therapy?

The therapy takes place in phases. The first phase is to take a detailed case history, noting those periods of your life about which you are still holding on to negative emotions. The therapist will also guide you to think about what your life will be like when you no longer have these negative emotions. EMDR is not used during the first phase, although some empowering hypnotherapy or NLP techniques may be.

When the therapist considers it appropriate to use the powerful therapy of EMDR he will explain the whole process to you. Essentially, you will be holding an image in mind, at the same time as being aware of the thoughts that go with the image also the feelings associated with it, while simultaneously watching the therapist's finger movements. The therapist will have guided you to the most appropriate image and thoughts.

This has the effect of quickly reducing the impact of the thought, as your brain begins to store the material in a different way.

The therapist then shows you how to replace the previous thoughts with more empowering ones