EMDR

What is it?  EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing.  It is a psychotherapy procedure, during which the therapist asks the client to focus on a troubling memory or emotion, whilst moving the eyes rapidly back and forth.  The rapid eye movements occur naturally during dream sleep.  In EMDR, deliberately moving the eyes rapidly back and forth connects a person’s disturbing experiences with their own inner healing resources.

In 1987, while walking in the park, Dr Francine Shapiro made a chance observation.  She noticed that disturbing thoughts which were present in her mind one minute disappeared the next, after her eyes had been moving rapidly back and forth.  A student of psychology, and a naturally curious person, she decided to research this phenomenon for her thesis.  After successfully experimenting with her friends and others, some of whom had suffered serious trauma, she incorporated rapid eye movements into a special protocol.  By 1989, Dr Shapiro had developed a totally new therapeutic method: EMDR therapy.

What is it used for?
 I use EMDR to treat troubling symptoms such as anxiety, stress, depression, guilt, anger, prolonged grief and other acute or chronic forms of distress.  It is the most researched treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  EMDR can also be used to enhance emotional resources such as confidence and self-esteem and is a particularly effective performance enhancement tool for people who are already high achievers.

What happens in a session?  
EMDR is different for everyone, because the healing process is guided from within.  Sometimes, behind a current concern, past issues or difficult memories with a similar flavour need to be revisited.  Past and present disturbances can all be treated with EMDR.  Sometimes a painful memory brings up unpleasant emotions or body sensations.  This is normal and generally passes within a few minutes.  The unpleasantness fades into the past and loses its power.

Why bring up a painful memory?
 When painful memories are avoided, their disturbing power is sustained.  Sometimes a resulting flashback or nightmare can feel as upsetting and overwhelming as the original experience.  In EMDR therapy, I give you the opportunity to face the difficult memory in a safe setting, so that you do not feel overwhelmed.  You now have the chance to process your experience until you can relate to the memory from a new, more detached perspective and move on.

How long does EMDR therapy take?
 Duration of treatment will depend on several factors, including the nature of the problem being treated, the client's history and ability to tolerate high levels of disturbance.  However, when EMDR is used appropriately, I find that it can significantly shorten a person’s overall length of time in therapy.