One of the approaches available for children and adults is Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR). This is an evidence based treatment for many types of trauma and has been proven to be effective in treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (see EMDR Institute website for references to research). In the UK, the NICE Guidelines also identify EMDR as a treatment of choice for PTSD. EMDR is now being used and researched for a range of other clinical issues. It has been applied to other conditions including depression, grief, phobias and panic disorder.
EMDR works by helping you process stuck negative experiences that continue to affect you, even though the actual event is often long in the past.
How does it work?
EMDR is different to talking therapy as each session is based on a defined structure, focusing on the past experience, sights, sounds, smells, emotions and body sensations and uses bi-lateral stimulation, (eye-movements) to stimulate the brain to process the event and desensitise the associated distress. Over time distress can be removed and replaced with new, adaptive beliefs.
- Getting to know you, history taking, developing some trust, setting goals, using questionnaires and homework tasks.
- Developing internal resources to strengthen your ability to connect to positive emotions.
- Tracing back memories; For example, if you’re having anxiety problems, thinking back to the earliest time you felt this intense anxiety sensation. Exploring the emotions and body sensations brought up by these memories that are often quite strong.
- Reprocessing using “bilateral stimulation. BLS is alternating between the left and right side of your body by moving the therapists finger back and forth while you follow with your eyes. It seems to facilitate information processing in a way that is similar to REM sleep. You go along for the ride and see what thoughts, memories, body sensations and emotions arise. Some people are quiet, whilst others talk. After about 2 minutes, the therapist will stop and ask you to share what came up for you. EMDR processing continues until the distress around the issue reduces. How many sessions this takes depends on the person and the memory. It can be very quick.
- Where there used to be upset and a negative self-belief, the therapist will work on installing a positive belief about you and your abilities.
- The therapist will do sets of BSL with you to clear body tension as the body can continue to hold onto negativity after your mind has let it go.
EMDR results often generalize, which means that once you’ve processed one upsetting memory, other related memories often subside.
EMDR Institute, Inc.2011
EMDR does not involve clinical hypnotherapy and you remain fully conscious and in control of the session throughout.
We offer EMDR at Thrive Family