What is EMDR?
EMDR is an extensively researched, powerful psychological treatment that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that is the result of disturbing life experiences. This treatment was developed by Clinical Psychologist, Dr Francine Shiparo.
Trauma and your brain:
When we experience trauma, our brains do not function like they normally do, the brain switches to survival mode. In this our brain instructs all our mental and physical energy toward dealing with the immediate threat until it has passed. This results in strong emotions which overwhelm our brain. Trauma can change the way we act, think, feel and experience situations and or people for a long time after the initial event took place. This can result in flashbacks or nightmares, feeling tense and on edge, loneliness, being angry with sometime self-destructive actions. Normally an experience would go through a part of our brain called the Hippocampus, which processes the experience so it can be filed away as a memory. It this does not happen, the experience gets stuck in the nervous system.
What can be treated with EMDR?
Research has shown the therapy’s benefits in treating psychological trauma from experiences such as:
It does not require talking in detail about the distressing issue or completing homework between sessions. Instead it focusses on changing thoughts, behaviours, emotions and body sensations resulting from unprocessed traumatic memories in the brain. Some people find that these distressing memories come to mind when something reminds them of the traumatic event, or sometimes the memories seem to just pop into their mind. Quite often people experience nightmares, a common theme of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
EMDR helps the brain to reprocess and heal the traumatic memories by imitating what the brain does naturally during REM sleep using rapid eye movements. It also helps to desensitise the person to the emotional impact of the memory, so they can think about the event without experiencing such strong feelings and sensations. It achieves this by asking the person to recall the traumatic event whilst using bilateral stimulation or tapping.
The number of sessions can depend upon the frequency, single trauma or multiple events, also the type of trauma which sometimes can stem from childhood.
Preparation sessions tend to last for 60 minutes, and processing sessions can last for up to 90 or 120 minutes.
During your sessions:
After taking some history and agreeing that EMDR therapy is a good fit for you, the beginning sessions will involve exploring what you wish to work on and improving your ability to manage distress. Firstly we will start with building resources within yourself, as emotional regulation is needed whilst we do this work. We will achieve this by doing some relaxation exercises such as creating a safe place, establishing protectors etc. Once we feel that you are well prepared, we can start to process the distressing memory you chose, using bilateral stimulation. You will have full control to stop the process at any point if needed. For this we will discuss a "stop signal" so you are in control. The sets of eye movements, or taps are repeated until the event becomes less disturbing to you.
The eight stages of EMDR are as follows:
1. History and Treatment Planning
6. Body Scan
The above eight phases are spread between multiple therapy sessions, ranging from over a few weeks to a few months, depending on the individual and the target memories we are working with.
It is only natural to be nervous as the process of coming into therapy can be daunting, as it uncovers painful, uncomfortable memories. This takes a lot of courage.
It is my strong intention to fully support you in your journey of recovery so you can reach the goals you have set to be able to live your life to the full.
"The speed at which change occurs during EMDR contradicts the traditional notion of time as essential for psychological healing. Shapiro has integrated elements from many different schools of psychotherapy into her protocols, making EMDR applicable to a variety of clinical populations and accessible to clinicians from different orientations."
Bessel A. van der Kolk, MD Professor of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine
"EMDR assists survivors in the immediate aftermath of violent trauma by breaking through the walls of denial, shock, grief and anger..Ideal for those who have been unable to forget past traumatic life events, as it allow for a rapid processing of even deeply rooted memories, giving individuals back control of their lives and their emotions."
Dusty Bowencamp, RN CTR Disaster Mental Health, American Red Cross
"EMDR is a significant component of treatment in the Trauma Recovery Program at the Menninger Clinic." Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic
"Francine Shapiro has made an enduring contribution to the field of psychotherapy."
Jeffrey K. Zeig, Ph.D. Director, The Milton H. Erickson Foundation
"Dr. Shapiroâs work has proven invaluable to clinicians around the world in helping people following trauma."
Atle Dyregrov, Ph.D., Consultant to UNICEF
"A lifesaving process for battered women...everyone who has experienced the psychological pain from abuse or knows someone who has should know about EMDR!"
Lenore Walker, Ed.D. ABPP, Domestic Violence Institute
"EMDR provides a proven approach to address the trauma that can interfere with healthy grief and mourning following the loss of a loved one."
Therese A. Rando, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director, The Institute for the Study and Treatment of Loss
"EMDR is proving to be the silicon chip of psychotherapy; it allows people to process incredible amounts of material in a shockingly short time."
Michael Elkin,Ph.D. Director, Center for Collaborative Solutions
"EMDR quickly opens new windows on reality, allowing people to see solutions within themselves that they never knew were there. And itâs a therapy where the client is very much in charge, which can be particularly meaningful when people are recovering from having their power taken away by abuse and violation."
Laura S. Brown, Ph.D.
"EMDR is the most revolutionary, important method to emerge in psychotherapy in decades."
Herbert Fensterheim, Ph.D., Cornell University
Nicky Fitzwilliam Wellness Therapies
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