Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a distinct treatment approach which uses bilateral stimulation to support the processing of distressing information that remain “frozen” in the brain or being unprocessed due to their overwhelming nature (e.g., in trauma). EMDR has been initially developed in order to successfully treat Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and this is where the bulk of its evidence-base presently lies, although EMDR is increasingly being used to treated other conditions in which disturbing memories play a part.
EMDR therapy focuses to past or present disturbing memories, experiences and related events. Eye movements (or other bilateral stimulation) are used during sessions. Once a memory or experience is agreed upon the therapist will ask the client to hold diverse facets of that event or thought in mind and to use his eyes to track the therapist’s hand as it moves back and forth across the client’s field of vision. Whilst this occurs, it is suggested that inner associations arise and the client begins to process the memory and distressing feelings. In successful EMDR therapy, the meaning of painful events is changed and integrated on an emotional level.
EMDR is an evidence based approach and its validity and reliability has been established by rigorous research. EMDR is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) as an effective treatment in PTSD.
What can I expect if I receive EMDR?
- You and your therapist will agree on key traumatic memories that you want to work on.
- There will be some repetition of this process in the room which is part of the reprocessing experience.
- Your therapist will continue to work with you and focus on specific memories until the intense affect associated with them has decreased.
- EMDR can be delivered as a therapy in its own right or sometimes you might receive it in conjunction with another therapeutic approach as an adjunctive intervention.