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          Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

           It is a psychotherapy approach designed for working with distressing or traumatic memories. The theory behind EMDR is that many psychological difficulties are the result of distressing life experiences which have not been stored in memory properly and are said to be unprocessed or blocked. These traumatic memories may need some help to become processed, and EMDR is one way to do this.
What is special about trauma memories?
Normal memories are stored by a part of the brain called the hippocampus.
You can think of the hippocampus as a sort of librarian which catalogues
(processes) events and stores them in the right place. However, some traumatic events (such as accidents, abuse, disasters, or violence) are so overwhelming
that the hippocampus doesn’t do its job pr
operly. When this happens memories are stored in their raw, unprocessed, form. These trauma memories are easily triggered, leading them to replay and cause distress over and again.

Train track in the mountains

What is EMDR?

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing. The treatment includes sessions in which you focus on an experience which is troubling you. While thinking about the experience, you follow the therapist’s fingers (or a light bar) from left to right with your eyes. These movements back and forth are referred to as “Bilateral  Stimulation”. It is not hypnosis: you remain fully conscious throughout. Other forms of bilateral stimulation that may be used are tapping left and right and listening to sounds in your left and right ear. The therapist will talk to you about the different options and find the one that suits you best. The procedure of thinking about the distressing experience and following the bilateral stimulation results in the disturbing memory losing its intensity. It is not forgotten but it ceases to be troubling. In other words, it has been “desensitised” and “reprocessed”.

                                                        Who is EMDR for?

EMDR is for people who have symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or trauma in the context of other presentations. This means that something that took place in the past, and which was very disturbing, gets replayed as if it is still happening in the present – for example, through flashbacks or nightmares, unwanted thoughts, images and sensations. This can make you feel anxious and constantly on guard and may lead you to avoid situations which trigger the memories.

Also EMDR works really well for Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Fears, Depression, Bereavement or Loss.  

                                                    How does it work?

The idea is that traumatic events which are overwhelming are not stored like other memories - they remain active and intrusive. The bilateral stimulation used in EMDR involves a dual focus of attention, requiring you to focus on something happening in the present (for example, following the therapist’s fingers) while thinking about the event in the past. This enables the brain to process and store the memory correctly.

                                                 How effective is EMDR?

Scientific trials of its effectiveness have shown that it is highly effective. It is recommended by NICE as a treatment for PTSD.

                                               What is an EMDR session like?

The initial sessions will involve an assessment of things that are troubling you at the moment, including aspects of your past experience which may be contributing to the problem.
Subsequent sessions involve preparing you for desensitisation and reprocessing by teaching techniques to manage any distress that arises during the processing.
At the end of each session, the therapist will focus on using techniques to leave you in a calm state and provide information about what to expect in between sessions (e.g. some people may find themselves remembering more aspects of the memory) and a suggestion to keep a log.
At the beginning of each subsequent session, the therapist will review your week and the processing that remains to be done.


                                            More information

You can find more information about EMDR at the website of the EMDR Association UK:

Animation to explain EMDR Therapy and Trauma to Adults. - YouTube

If you want to find more information about EMDR please get in touch by using the link below:

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