Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)

What is EMDR?

EMDR therapy can be an effective form of treatment for many forms of psychological issues, including Post Traumatic Stress.

Sometimes, life experiences can be so disturbing that they disrupt the brain's usual way of processing/digesting information. Consequently, unprocessed memories can remain in the brain's memory network along with associated negative emotions, physical sensations and beliefs.

The brain's memory network is constantly needed to interpret everyday experiences, and any unprocessed memories can cloud interpretations of current experiences by invoking the emotions and sensations of the earlier traumatic experience(s). In effect, the past is still present. The effects of this are clearly seen in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. However, people diagnosed with other conditions, such as depression and anxiety, may also be affected by unprocessed memories.

It may seem reasonable to avoid thinking about traumatic events that trigger distressing feelings and sensations. However, current experiences (even those which are seemingly unrelated)  can trigger traumatic memories and elicit the same emotional response. Thus, unprocessed trauma can adversely affect a person's quality of life, even if they don't think about it. A person may avoid or overreact to particular situations, tasks or people because of fear, anxiety, insecurity or unremitting sadness.


How EMDR Works

EMDR is a non-intrusive form of therapy that alternatingly stimulates the left and right sides of the brain in quick succession through eye movements, tapping or sounds.  When used in relation to unprocessed memories, EMDR seems to stimulate the brain to "unblock" the memory network by gradually processing these experiences in a similar way to ordinary memories. In fact the brain is thought to exhibit a natural form of EMDR through REM Sleep (Rapid Eye Movement), when the eyes rapidly move from side to side. EMDR is a conscious form of therapy that can be specifically aimed at particular distressing memories, helping the brain to resolve the negative feelings and sensations associated with the memory.[]


What Situations Can EMDR Help With?

Studies have shown that EMDR therapy can help with:

IllnessWitness to abuse/ neglect/ traumatic events etc.
Childhood abuse or neglectVictims of crime
Post-traumatic stressPersonal injury or the injury of a loved one
Anxiety/ panicCoping with distressing experiences from the past
PhobiasSleeping problems
Lack of motivationGuilt/ shame
Difficulty with trusting othersAnger management
Low self-esteemRelationship problems
Other forms of distress and trauma

Will an EMDR Approach Help Me?

EMDR is used with adults, as well as with children/adolescents (EMDR can even be adapted for use with very young children). It is not essential for people to be able to consciously recall traumatic incidents for EMDR. An initial consultation will be required to discuss whether EMDR is the most appropriate therapeutic approach for each individual. Please contact us for further information.


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