Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR) is a powerful and transformational psychotherapy that is recommended by NICE and many other international bodies for the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It is widely practiced at the NHS. Alongside its proven effectiveness for PTSD and Trauma, there are many published peer reviewed studies showing its effectiveness with phobias, anger, different anxiety disorders, grief, low self-esteem, complex trauma, chronic pain, addictions, anger etc.
EMDR has been designed specifically to help us process traumas and/or past stressful experiences that have been stored in the brain and/or the nervous system. It does so through the use of specialised techniques and protocols which engage our 'adaptive information processing system' and help us restore our nervous system to balance. Changes are achieved on a neurological level, and whilst of course past memories cannot be erased, they can lose their emotional charge. If the client is not able to remember the past event, we are typically able to work with the presenting complaint directly and access the body memory via different channels. The process is quick and more comfortable than in standard talking therapies and the result is that the client quickly begins to feel less anxious, more confident and comfortable in their own skin.
EMDR can be practiced as a standalone therapy or in conjunction with CBT.
SO WHAT IS TRAUMA?
We typically think of psychological Trauma to be caused by serious life incidences such as abuse, death, violence and accidents, yet not many people realise that situations such as relationship breakdowns; bereavements; bullying; ongoing stress at work; toxic relationships; health and medical problems - can all leave a trauma-like imprint on our body and mind. In fact anything that happens to us that feels too fast, too quickly or too soon, can feel traumatic. In addition, consistent lack of support in early childhood, unsupportive early relationships, lack of clear boundaries - can lead to what psychologists call developmental traumas.
What makes it tricky is that often we no longer remember the trauma/ stressor, instead our body remembers it in the muscles and the nervous system. In fact, unprocessed traumas can linger and produce symptoms such as anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, restlessness, dizziness, inability to relax, an urge to keep busy, feelings of helplessness, urge to withdraw and hide, thoughts that we can’t cope, are not good enough, difficulty asking for help and trusting people, shame, guilt, anger and sometimes even emotional and/or physical numbness and in extreme circumstances flashbacks, nightmares and dissociation.
Therapy can be very helpful in helping us recognise the stress points in our lives and it can restore a sense of safety and balance.