The mind can often heal itself naturally, in the same way as the body does. Much of this natural coping mechanism occurs during sleep, particularly during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Francine Shapiro developed Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) in 1987, utilising this natural process in order to successfully treat Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Since then, EMDR has been used to effectively treat a wide range of mental health problems.
What is an EMDR session like?
EMDR utilises the natural healing ability of your body. After a thorough assessment, we will identify together the disturbing memories that may impact on you. Eye movements, similar to those during REM sleep, will be recreated by following a visual stimulus in front of your visual field. This is administered either through on screen software if we work remotely, or a light bar if we work face to face. The eye movements will last for 30 – 60 seconds. You will then be asked to report back on the experiences you have had. Experiences during a session may include changes in thoughts, images and feelings. 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.
What can EMDR be used for?
In addition to its use for the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, EMDR has been successfully used to treat:
- anxiety and panic attacks
- sleep problems
- complicated grief
- self-esteem and performance anxiety
How long does treatment take?
EMDR can be brief focused treatment or part of a longer psychotherapy programme. Sessions last 50 to 80 minutes.
Will I remain in control?
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. Throughout the session, I will support and facilitate your own self-healing and intervene as little as possible. Reprocessing is usually experienced as something that happens spontaneously, and new connections and insights are felt to arise quite naturally from within. As a result, most people experience EMDR as being a natural and very empowering therapy.
What evidence is there that EMDR is a successful treatment?
The validity and reliability of EMDR has been established by rigorous research. There are now nineteen controlled studies into EMDR making it the most thoroughly researched method used in the treatment of trauma, and is recommended by National Institute for Health & Care Excellence (NICE) (see 1.6.18) as an effective treatment for PTSD.