EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitisation & Reprocessing

EMDR  is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are a result of disturbing life experiences. The EMDR procedure was originally developed by a clinical psychologist named Francine Shapiro  and used in the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  EMDR has been increasingly used over the years to treat e.g. grief, phobias, test and performance anxiety, recovery from sexual abuse, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, panic, anger, pain, jealousy, sexual dysfunction, low self esteem and lack of confidence.

In EMDR, the therapist produces bilateral stimulation usually in the form of eye movements, but also sometimes in the form of bilateral auditory or tactile stimulation. There is a great deal of evidence this speeds up the reprocessing of disturbing emotional or traumatic material and at the same time helps the client feel safer in making contact with traumatic material.

In EMDR, the therapist will always firstly carry out a careful psychological assessment of whether EMDR would be suitable for the problem(s) presented. The assessment phase will explore the difficulties the client is experiencing in his current life, problematic symptoms,feelings and behaviours. It will elicit a memory or memories representing the problem.

Before processing the distressing memories using the bilateral stimulation, the client will be taught relaxation and grounding techniques to support them in-between sessions, these relaxation techniques will be used at the end of all EMDR sessions. The length of preparation work for EMDR varies from client to client, therapist and client may spend several sessions developing the clients inner resources before entering EMDR processing stage.

When the therapist feels the client is ready to use EMDR the client will be asked for a picture that represents the memory, a negative belief that they have about themselves in relation to the memory, and to notice associated physical sensations. After this a number of sets of eye movements or other bilateral stimulation are commenced, and after each set of eye movements the therapist will ask the client what they noticed. Typically, the images, emotions, and sensations experienced change through this process. At some point these changes become more positive and adaptive as the client reprocesses old dysfunctional information and connects with presently held adaptive and functional information. The aim is always to enable the client to recollect the original traumatic material without disturbance and to have new and more adaptive beliefs about themselves in relation to the experience.

With “simple” or “one off” traumas or experiences in adult life, EMDR can be remarkably rapid in its effects, and average treatment times for these kinds of problems are from 3 to 20 sessions. With more “complex” or multiple traumas treatment can take much longer but the evidence that we have to date suggests that EMDR is the most efficient and rapid psychotherapeutic procedure available for the treatment of traumatic memories and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

If you would like further information on EMDR then please visit www.emdrassociation.org.uk