EMDR is a psychotheraputic treatment used in conjunction with other models of psycotherapy and counselling. It was initially developed to be used with sufferers of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) following traumatic events in their lives such as road traffice accidents, natural disasters or physical and sexual assault, but is now used for a range of conditions.
At the time of a traumatic event, strong emotions can interfere with our ability to process the experience and one moment or incident can become frozen in time. This memory becomes 'locked' into our central nervous system so that recalling the traumatic event may feel as though the person is reliving it all over again because images, smells, sounds and feelings are still there and can be triggered in the present. These memories impede out daily functioning and impact on the way we view ourselves, others and the world around us. EMDR therapy allows the individual to process the traumatic memory so that it becomes less upsetting. The major significance of EMDR is that it allows the brain to heal its psychological problems naturally, similar to the way the body heals itself from physical injury.
During an EMDR session, the therapist will help the client to identify a specific issue to work on. The client calls to mind the disturbing event, what was seen, felt, heard and experienced and the thoughts and beliefs that the client currently holds about what happened. While focussing on this, the client is asked to track the therapist's hand movements with their eyes which results in rapid eye movement similar to those we experience in REM sleep whilst dreaming. The belief is that this method simulates the natural healing processes in the brain which occur in REM sleep in a more conscious way. Other forms of dual processing, for example the use of hand tapping, can be used as an alternative to eye movements.
Each client will process the information uniquely, based on personal experiences and values. There is no 'right' or 'wrong' way to do so. Clients are simply asked to notice what comes to mind during the process without making any effort to control direction or content. EMDR is a client led therapy and always remains within the control of the client.
Aside from cases of trauma or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, EMDR can also be hugely beneficial for the following conditions:
Panic Attacks Relationship problems
Anxiety Self Esteem Issues
Stress reduction Phobias