The name EMDR, refers to a psychological therapy known as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. This approach was discovered by Dr. Francine Shapiro in the United States and was initially used as a treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), finding great success with veterans of the Vietnam War and survivors of rape. In 2000, EMDR was recognised by the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies as an effective treatment for PTSD.
In the UK in 2005, EMDR was recognised by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and has since also been considered highly effective and supported by the practice guidelines of the American Psychiatric Association and the US Department of Defence and Veteran Affairs. Most recently the World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended EMDR for PTSD in adults and children.
A wealth of research has been conducted demonstrating the benefits in treating psychological trauma arising from experiences as diverse as war related experiences, childhood sexual and/or physical abuse, to neglect, natural disaster, assault, surgical trauma, road traffic accidents and workplace accidents. Since its original development, EMDR is also increasingly used to help individuals with other issues such as depression and performance anxiety.
What happens in EMDR?
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. The distressing memory seems to become frozen on a neurological level. When a person recalls the distressing memory, the person can re-experience what they saw, heard, smelt, tasted or felt, and this can be very intense. Sometimes the memories are so distressing the person tries to avoid thinking about the distressing event to avoid re-experiencing the distressing feelings.
Some find that the distressing memories come to mind when something reminds them of the distressing event, or sometimes the memories just seem to just pop into mind. The alternating left-right stimulation of the brain with eye movements, sounds or taps during EMDR, seems to stimulate the frozen or blocked information processing system.
In the process the distressing memories seem to lose their intensity, so that the memories are less distressing and seem more like ‘ordinary memories’. The effect is believed to be similar to that which occurs during REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement) when your eyes rapidly move from side to side. EMDR helps reduce the distress of all the different kinds of memories, whether it is what you saw, heard, smelt, tasted, felt or thought. It is an excellent therapy tp resolve psychological trauma and N`ice approved.