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What is EMDR?
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is one of the most significant, exciting and innovative developments for decades in the treatment of psychological trauma related conditions. EMDR is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches. To date, EMDR therapy has helped millions of people of all ages relieve many types of psychological stress.
Supported by extensive research. It is recommended for the treatment of PTSD in national and international guidelines including the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
What issues can it help treat?
EMDR is effective at treating a wide range of issues such as anxiety, depression, relationship issues, phobias, PTSD, abuse trauma, and many more.
How it worksThe theory behind EMDR suggests that our current problems and issues are the result of a breakdown in how some early experiences were processed in the brain. This breakdown in processing may be caused by the shock, or due to overwhelming levels of emotion during the upsetting/ traumatic event. This may be a seemingly small event from childhood, such as a hurtful comment, or a very traumatic event such as being repeatedly abused. However, because the memory isn’t fully processed, negative thoughts or beliefs that arise from it, such as “I am in danger” or “I am a bad person” are triggered in everyday life. This leads to unhelpful and distressing behaviours and reactions. Issues such as flashbacks, intrusive negative thoughts, nightmares and panic attacks/anxiety are all symptoms of unprocessed trauma held in the Psyche.
What does a session involve?
In a session the client brings to mind the earliest target memory linked to their current issue, including images, beliefs about themselves, emotion, and physical sensations. With these in mind, clients are then asked to focus on hand movements made by the therapist (or hand taps). These eye movements simulate those made during REM sleep ( when the brain is processing the day’s events) and thus stimulate the brain to quickly process the emotional distress, and make new more helpful connections with other information stored in the brain. Afterward, the client will be asked what was brought up during the exercise. Whatever was brought up can then be used for another exposure exercise.
This cycle continues until the memory can be recalled without any distress, any negative beliefs/thoughts no longer feel true, and also any triggers in daily life have been processed.
How many sessions will I need?
The number of sessions will depend on how many memories will need to be processed in order to achieve the goals of therapy. EMDR is a rapid way of processing trauma, and a single memory can sometimes be processed in a single session. However usually a few sessions will be required, and complex issues involving multiple traumatic events will obviously require a longer period of treatment. Sessions are up to 90 minutes long.
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