EMDR - What is it?

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation And Reprocessing)

EMDR is a specialised psychotherapeutic technique which was developed in the 1980s.  The procedure itself is deceptively simple. Clients focus on the problem while the therapist guides them to produce a set of rapid eye movements.

This therapy uses eye movements to release and process information that has become trapped in the mind body network. Often when something traumatic happens, or we have extreme fears, they seem to get locked in the nervous system, often with the original picture, sounds, thoughts and feelings. Since the experience is locked there, it continues to be triggered whenever a reminder comes up. It can be the basis for much discomfort and many negative emotions such as fear and helplessness that seem out of our control. These are simply emotions connected with the old experience that are being triggered continuously.

The eye movements used in EMDR appear to unlock the nervous system and allow your brain to process the experience rather like what may be happening in REM or in 'dream sleep'. The eye movements are involved in processing the subconscious material held within your mind. 

As the subconscious begins to present new feelings and thoughts, further sets of eye moments are used to locate the original trauma and replace negative thoughts with positive insights. Hence EMDR – Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing.

The theory behind the therapy is that during times of severe trauma the normal neurochemical reactions of the brain seem to overload and virtually ‘freeze’ information in the mind.  Using EMDR is like ‘jump starting’ the normal process we use when dealing with distressing events, rather like the rapid eye movements of sleep which produce dreams.  The technique of alternating left and right stimulation also seems to enhance the brain’s ability to integrate memory fragments and therefore create a less disturbing memory.

Although EMDR was originally developed for the treatment of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), it is now used to treat a wide range of condition including abuse, eating disorders, depression, learning problems, and phobias. EMDR is suitable for most people, including children and as it is your own brain that is doing the healing, you are totally in control at all times.

EMDR is now considered to be the therapy of choice for trauma & PTSD, according to the National Council for Clinical Excellence. It is also effective for anxiety disorders, substance abuse, phobias, pain control and body dysmorphic disorder.

Carole is one of the few therapists to have trained with Sandra Foster, PhD, a performance enhancement psychologist & business coach, in Peak Performance Protocol, an exciting and effective expansion of the basic EMDR protocol, which reduces performance anxiety both in the workplace and in the arts and sport.

Carole and Alan are fully licenced practitioners with EMDR UK & Ireland.


Success with EMDR

One particular research study showed that a significant improvement was produced in 80% of patients suffering from single incident trauma (rape, suicide of family member, combat related trauma) after just three 90 minute EMDR sessions.

The therapy is extensively used in all cases of PTSD with veterans from Desert Storm, Vietnam, Korea and World War Two.

Both victims of crime and police officers have benefited, in addition to victims of abuse – both children and adults.

In fact, one advantage of the treatment is that it can be used with very young children and as hypnosis is not used it can also benefit those people who fear a loss of control.

Although effective with psychological trauma, it is also a valuable tool in the treatment of anxiety, phobias, nightmares, sexual problems and depression.

It has been compared to using a laser during surgery – cutting through unwanted memories, finding the root of the problem and replacing negative thoughts with positive feelings.

EMDR is used for

  • Phobias
  • Panic attacks
  • Confidence

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