"Thank you for being my therapist and helping me through rough memories and working on everything to control my temper and stressor " (16 year old boy May 2019)
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR)
For children and adults
EMDR is a psychotherapy that has been proven to be effective in treating trauma, and is recommended by the UK's National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
EMDR is an effective treatment for children and adults who have problems following traumatic experiences.
Trauma can stem from a single one off accident, major distressing event or natural disaster or from major complex life experiences like childhood abuse, neglect or sexual violence. Or it can arise from less obvious “minor” ongoing events like bullying or living in an emotionally abusive environment.
EMDR can also be used for:
· Anxiety and panic attacks
· Grief and loss
EMDR is a complex method of psychotherapy that integrates a range of therapeutic approaches, and combines them with eye movements or other forms of bilateral stimulation, which then activates the brain's information processing system.
Normally, the individual processes traumatic experiences naturally. However, when a person is severely traumatised, either by an overwhelming event or by being repeatedly subjected to distress, this healing process may become overloaded, leaving the original disturbing experiences unprocessed. These unprocessed memories can be stored in the brain in a "raw" form where they can be continually re-evoked when experiencing events that are similar to the original experience.
EMDR utilises the body's natural healing ability and allows the brain to heal psychological problems at the same rate as the rest of the body heals physical ailments. Because EMDR allows the mind and body to heal at the same rate, treatment can be rapid.
What happens in EMDR?
EMDR can be used alone, or may be combined with other approaches, such as creative arts, sandplay and play therapy.
The client would then be asked to think about what is the worst part of a traumatic memory and to be aware of any feelings, thoughts or body sensations which go with the memory. This memory is then held ‘in mind’ by the client while the therapist encourages them to move their eyes from side to side for a short time, following the therapist’s finger or a light bar.
Other bilateral approaches can be used such as tapping on the back of the client’s hands or alternate buzzers/vibrations or beeps. Following this the therapist will ask the client to ‘blank out’ the memory and then to bring it back and report on any changes. Further bilateral stimulation can then be used with this memory. The memory continues to be worked with in this way until it is no longer upsetting.