What is EMDR

As a therapist most of my clients develop a cognitive understanding of the roots of their unhappiness. In some cases this is the solution they have been looking for, but in some cases, part of the affective element of their initial problem has remained. I use EMDR as a solution to this problem. The mind can often heal itself naturally, in the same way as the body does and EMDR utilises the natural healing ability of your body. Much of this natural coping mechanism occurs during sleep, particularly during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. EMDR was developed by Francine Shapiro utilising this natural process.

For clients who have endured traumas whether ‘big T trauma’ or ‘little t trauma’ the therapy process can feel arduous. For those who gain insight into their history, some still had intense feelings that feel difficult to shift. EMDR can be a solution to this problem. It is a way to break through, relatively quickly, and help tame flashbacks and the disturbing emotions that have resulted from previous life experiences.

Most of the time our bodies routinely manage new information and experiences without being aware of it. However, when something out of the ordinary occurs and you are traumatised by an overwhelming event or by being repeatedly subjected to distress, our natural coping mechanism can become overloaded. This overloading can result in disturbing experiences remaining frozen in your brain or being unprocessed. These unprocessed memories and feelings are stored in the limbic system of your brain in a ‘raw’ and emotional form, rather than in a verbal ‘story’ mode. As a result these traumatic memories can be continually triggered when you experience events similar to the difficult experiences you have been through. Often the memory itself is long forgotten, but the painful feelings such as anxiety, panic, anger, despair, shame are continually triggered in the present. EMDR helps create the connections between your brain’s memory networks, enabling your brain to process the traumatic memory in a very natural way.

During an EMDR session you will be asked questions about a particular disturbing memory. Eye movements, similar to those during REM sleep, will be recreated simply by asking you to watch my fingers moving backwards and forwards across your visual field. With repeated sets of eye movements, the memory tends to change in such a way that it loses its painful intensity and simply becomes a neutral memory of an event in the past. Other associated memories may also heal at the same time. This linking of related memories can lead to a dramatic and rapid improvement in many aspects of your life.

During EMDR treatment, you will remain in control, fully alert and wide awake. This is NOT a form of hypnosis and you can stop the process at any time. EMDR can be a stand alone treatment or part of your psychotherapy process.


< Back