I use EMDR Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing with people who are suffering with present day difficulties due to past events and experiences. EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing. It is a therapy used to help people recover from distressing events and the problems they have caused, like flashbacks, upsetting thoughts or images, depression or anxiety.
EMDR is recognised by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and the World Health Organisation (WHO), which also recognises it as an effective treatment for children. I am trained and experienced in working with children and adolescents (from nursery age and above).
How does it work
When you are involved in a distressing event, you may feel overwhelmed and your brain may be unable to process the information in the way it processes a normal memory. This leads to some traumatic experiences are stored with the emotions and body sensations that were part of the event. The distressing memory seems to become frozen and when it is recalled it brings with it the pain and discomfort of the past event. The memory feels more like it is being re-lived than remembered, you re-experience what you saw, heard, smelt, tasted or felt, and this can be quite intense.
For some the distressing memories come up when something reminds them of the distressing event, or sometimes the memories just seem to just pop into mind for no reason and unexpectedly.
By reprocessing those experiences with the use of EMDR, the way the memory is stored can change. The aim of the therapy is for you to be able to recall those difficult events without feeling all the pain and discomfort once associated with it. In the process, the distressing memories seem to lose their intensity, so that the memories are less distressing and seem more like 'ordinary' memories.
What to expect?
I will spend time getting to know your history. This generally includes the kind of distress you are experiencing, the kind of difficulties have you experienced, if you have physical problems, if you are taking medication and exploring the support you have.
I do not automatically offer EMDR to all clients
How do I know if EMDR is right for me?
There are a number of factors to consider when evaluating its appropriateness for a client's particular situation and history. During your initial consultation, an in-depth assessment of your problems and all other relevant factors will be discussed in full. In general, you are an excellent candidate for EMDR if you have traumatic memories that are clearly identifiable and vivid.
During EMDR you will remain conscious AND in control at all times.
We will also spend some time doing some relaxation exercises, which could include, guided visualisation, deep muscle relaxation and breathing exercises. Or if you prefer exercises that engage different muscle groups in various sequences. You will be given copies of these exercises to listen to and use at home.
Once you are sufficiently prepared, we can then work to target a distressing memory with the eye movements. During the eye movements, you may experience the distressing event quite intensely to start with as quick and vibrant images arise during the therapy session.
Before the end of the session, I will always give you time to feel calm again, using the relaxation techniques you learnt in those early sessions. Clients’ distress generally reduces as the memory is processed with EMDR resulting in painful feelings being exchanged for more peaceful, loving and resolved feelings
How often would I need EMDR?
Typically, a session lasts 60 minutes.
Treatment can be very rapid, however, the number of sessions will vary, according to the complexity of the issues being dealt with. In general, the more isolated the traumatic memory being treated, the shorter the treatment tends to be. For individuals with a history of multiple painful experiences and years of feeling bad about them, a number of EMDR sessions in conjunction traditional counselling may be needed.
What happens between EMDR sessions?
EMDR treatment generates a certain amount of thinking and conscious awareness and the treatment does not just stop immediately after your session. During your eye movement session, a lot of memories may come to mind and some people (but not all) find that after the session they may think about these memories. If these memories are distressing, then for a day or two you may still feel distressed. During this time, it is recommended that you take care of yourself and use your relaxation technique to sooth yourself or muscle engagement exercises. It is recommended that you do not do anything too stressful straight after your EMDR session, such as an examination or driving test. 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.
Some report that they dream more. Everybody is different so between sessions, it is a good idea for you to keep a daily thought log of any unusual or noteworthy thoughts or feelings. You can bring these notes to the next session. This thought record will help me to know if any adjustments in your therapy are required. At the end of EMDR therapy, most people report feeling no distress at all when recalling the distressing event. As people’s distress decreases with EMDR, they report feeling a sense of relief, a feeling of openness or even euphoria.
What are the Symptoms that can be helped by EMDR?
- High anxiety
- Memories of a traumatic experience(s)
- Fear of being alone
- Unrealistic feelings of guilt and shame
- Difficulty in trusting others
- OCD and some forms of emotional eating
- Addictive behaviours and some addictions