Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)

What is Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)?

EMDR is a therapeutic approach used to treat trauma and related mental health conditions.  It involves a series of eye movements or other forms of bilateral stimulation while focusing on distressing memories or thoughts. This process helps individuals process and integrate traumatic experiences, reducing their emotional impact and promoting healing. EMDR is based on the idea that traumatic memories can become “stuck” in the brain, causing distressing symptoms. By stimulating both sides of the brain through eye movements or other methods, EMDR helps reprocess these memories, allowing individuals to develop more adaptive thoughts and emotions. EMDR is often used alongside other therapeutic techniques and can be beneficial for various conditions.

When is EMDR used as a form of therapy?

EMDR can be utilised as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in various age groups. Moreover, emerging evidence suggests that EMDR can also be beneficial for a wide range of clinical conditions, such as anxiety disorders, psychosis, affective disorders, substance use disorders, and chronic back pain, particularly when childhood trauma or stressful life events are involved. (Perlini C. et al. (2020) ‘The potential role of EMDR on trauma in affective disorders: A narrative review’, Journal of Affective Disorders, 269, pp. 1–11. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2020.03.001.)

What to expect in an EMDR session

During an EMDR session, you can expect a safe and supportive environment where you work closely with a qualified psychologist. You’ll start by discussing your history and identifying specific memories or issues you want to address. Then, you’ll focus on those memories while engaging in bilateral stimulation, such as following your psychologist’s finger movements with your eyes. This helps your brain process the memories in a new way, reducing their distressing impact over time. Throughout the session, your psychologist will guide and support you, helping you explore and reframe your thoughts and emotions. EMDR is a collaborative process, and your psychologist will ensure your comfort and well-being throughout the session.

Remember, therapy is personalised to your unique needs and experiences. Your psychologist will adapt the approach to ensure it is respectful, empowering, and supportive of your therapeutic journey.

(Reference: EMDR International Association)

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