EMDR Therapy or Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing is a powerful psychological /psychotherapeutic treatment method that was developed by a Clinical Psychologist, Dr Francine Shapiro in 1987, specifically for the treatment of people with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). It is a standardised, 8 phase trauma-focused therapy involving the use of bilateral physical stimulation (eyes, taps or tones).
EMDR is used for individuals who have experienced some form of Trauma that has remained unresolved – for instance physical assault, sexual assault, torture, rape or car / motor bike accident etc. The goal of EMDR is to process disturbing traumatic memories by reducing their on-going effect by enabling that person to develop more adaptive coping mechanisms. It has been found to benefit Children as well as Adults.
EMDR Therapy helps to liberate clients who are living in the past to move into a healthy and productive present. It is highly effective for the treatment of Traumas (PTSD), Depression, Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCD), Pain, including Phantom Pain and Phobias.
EMDR is an efficacious therapy that does not require much talking and opening up by the client – hence why it is used extensively with veterans and soldiers of war. It also does not require any homework which can be a drawback of CBT or TF-CBT (Trauma-focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy).
When someone experiences a severe psychological trauma (rape, road accident, torture, combat exposure, emotional, sexual, physical abuse, terrorist attack, depression or other mental illness in the family, physical or psychological neglect, natural disaster, witnessing a death, murder etc.) it appears that an imbalance occurs in the nervous system. In other words, when a trauma occurs it seems to get locked in the nervous system with the original sounds, thoughts, feelings and sights. The trauma gets triggered over and over again by internal and external stimuli causing nightmares, flashbacks and intrusive thoughts (PTSD). The eye movements used in EMDR therapy seem to unlock the nervous system and allow the brain to process the trauma – so that it no longer is traumatic any more. Trauma memories can be images, sounds, thoughts, emotions, body sensations and relationships.
It is important to remember that EMDR is an 8 phased Protocol and the eye movements are just one phase of the protocol.