What is EMDR Therapy?
EMDR is an acronym for ‘Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing’. EMDR is a powerful psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences.
How does EMDR Therapy Work?
When a person is involved in a distressing event, they may feel overwhelmed and their brain may be unable to process the information like a normal memory. Sometimes the memories are so distressing, the person tries to avoid thinking about the distressing event to avoid experiencing the distressing feelings. However, sometimes the memories are triggered by sounds, images or situations that are out of the person’s control.
The alternating left-right stimulation of the brain with eye movements, sounds or taps during EMDR, stimulate the frozen or blocked information processing system.
By processing the distressing memories, they lose their intensity so that the memories are less distressing and seem more like ‘ordinary’ memories. EMDR helps reduce the distress of all the different kinds of memories, whether it was what you saw, heard, smelt, tasted, felt or thought.
EMDR is not simply the use of eye movements. It is a comprehensive therapeutic approach with principles, protocols and procedures with the goal of reducing distress in the shortest period of time.
EMDR treatment generates a certain amount of ‘momentum’ to your thinking and conscious awareness. In other words, the treatment does not just stop immediately after your session. During your eye movement session, a lot of memories may come to mind and people find that after the session they may think about these memories.
What to expect from a session:
When we first meet, I shall spend some time understanding your history in order to prepare you for EMDR. Once we have a solid scope of the trauma or emotional experience, we begin EMDR therapy. EMDR therapy involves sitting in front of an EMDR light machine. The light moves in an oscillation left and right, and your eyes follow the light while you relax, keeping your head still. This rapid eye movement mimics REM movement when we are sleeping, only that with EMDR your eyes remain open. Alternatively, you can use buzzers that are placed in your hands. The buzzers create vibrations in the palms of your hands - alternating between left and right. EMDR Therapy could take three sessions or more depending on your level of distress and your support system.
Between sessions, it is recommended that you take care of yourself and use your relaxation technique to sooth yourself. It is better not do anything too stressful straight after your EMDR session. Some people report that after the session they seem to recall more aspects of the events that they hadn’t thought about for a while.
As the distress decreases with EMDR, people report feeling a sense of relief. At the end of EMDR therapy, many people report feeling no distress at all when recalling the distressing event.