EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) therapy is a form of psychotherapy that was developed in the 1980s to help people cope with traumatic events they have experienced or witnessed. It is based on the idea that when we experience a traumatic event, our brains may not fully process the experience, leading to negative emotions, thoughts, and behaviours. EMDR therapy helps the brain to process these experiences and to significantly reduce the negative impact they have on a person’s life.
The basics of EMDR Therapy
During an EMDR therapy session, a trained therapist will guide the client through a series of eye movements, tapping, or auditory stimuli while the person recalls the traumatic event. The therapist will ask the person to focus on a specific aspect of the event, such as a negative belief they have about themselves, and to rate their level of distress on a scale of 1 to 10. The therapist will then use the bilateral/distracting stimuli to help the person reprocess the experience.
The exact mechanism by which EMDR therapy works is not fully understood, but it is believed to involve changes in the way the brain processes and stores memories. When a person experiences an intense event, they may become overwhelmed and unable to fully process the experience. This can lead to the memories becoming “frozen” in the brain and the person continuing to experience negative emotions and reactions as if the event were still happening.
EMDR therapy helps the brain process these memories and integrate them into the person’s overall life experience. This can lead to a reduction in the intensity of negative emotions and reactions, and can help the person develop more adaptive coping mechanisms.
Efficacy of EMDR
There is a wealth of research supporting the effectiveness of EMDR in treating trauma and related conditions. Studies have found EMDR therapy is effective in reducing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including flashbacks, nightmares, re-experiencing and re-triggering, and avoidance behaviours. It has also been shown to be effective in treating mental conditions which may have been caused by a traumatic or particularly challenging event. Such conditions include anxiety, depression, and phobias.
EMDR therapy is a gradual process and requires multiple sessions to be effective. It is also not appropriate for everyone, and a trained therapist should assess a person’s suitability for EMDR therapy before beginning treatment.
If you or someone you know has experienced a traumatic event and is struggling with negative emotions or behaviours, EMDR therapy may be a helpful treatment option. It is important to seek the support of a trained mental health professional to determine the best course of treatment.
Get in touch
If you would like to learn more about EMDR or to schedule an appointment with an EMDR therapist, please don’t hesitate to contact Stephen for further discussion.