Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an interactive psychotherapy technique used to relieve psychological stress. It is an effective treatment for trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and for the treatment of depression, anxiety, panic attacks, phobias, eating disorders and addictions.
How does EMDR therapy work?
EMDR works by changing the way your brain processes traumatic or distressing memories, cognitions and emotions. EMDR therapy is an eight-phase treatment. Eye movements are used during part of the session.
This process involves working on the images, thoughts and feelings associated with traumatic or distressing situations, whilst simultaneously undertaking eye movements.
During EMDR therapy sessions, you relive traumatic or triggering experiences in brief doses while the therapist directs your eye movements.
Why is EMDR therapy worth trying?
EMDR is thought to be effective because recalling distressing events is often less emotionally upsetting when your attention is diverted. This allows you to be exposed to the memories or thoughts without having a strong psychological response. Over time, this technique is believed to lessen the impact that the memories or thoughts have on you.
What are the benefits of EMDR therapy?
EMDR is thought to be particularly effective for those who struggle to talk about their past experiences.
EMDR can significantly accelerate the healing process after a traumatic experience and the effects are long lasting.
EMDR is designed to be used as a stand-alone process but can also be effectively integrated into Cognitive and Behavioural techniques for the treatment of trauma and anxiety.
Although there is not yet enough research to prove its effectiveness in these areas, EMDR therapy is believed to be an effective treatment for:
- panic attacks
- eating disorders
- phobias and fears
What happens during an EMDR session?
EMDR sessions start off, as you might expect, with the EMDR therapist exploring the reason that you have come to therapy, what is troubling you and understanding where you are, emotionally, and where you would like to be.
Although you won’t use eye movement work in the first session, at a point in your subsequent sessions the EMDR therapist will bring into the session a form of ‘rapid eye movement’ which could be by using moving fingers back and forth in front of your face and asking you to follow these hand motions with your eyes. At the same time, the EMDR therapist will have you recall an event or emotion that has distressed you. This will include the emotions and body sensations that go along with it.
Gradually, during the sessions, the EMDR therapist will guide you to shift your thoughts to more pleasant ones. Some therapists use alternatives to finger movements, such as hand or toe tapping or musical tones.
Scientists believe that the EMDR therapy process works by causing the brain to process the painful or traumatic thoughts (memories) whilst also performing eye movements causing the brain to rapidly process the two at the same time. It is believed that this process can reduce the sensitivity hat you have around the traumatic memory or painful thoughts or feelings.
Scientists liken this process to the one that they understand and believe to be taking place during REM sleep when the brain appears to be processing thoughts and information that has been stored during our conscious (waking) existence.
EMDR therapy at City Therapy Rooms
Giulia Sciannandrone and Henrietta Nurney are experienced in EMDR and use this process to assist in therapy. If you would like to find out more about EMDR and if it is the right therapy for you then contact Giulia or Henrietta by visiting their profile pages.
© Brian Cotsen