Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprogramming is usually termed simply as EMDR. Before I describe how EMDR works I would like to say a little about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and what’s know as ‘small t’ trauma, as these are the two main issues EMDR is used to treat.
PTSD is a response to the exposure of a very stressful or traumatic event or an exceptionally shocking, threatening or catastrophic situation. Examples include being a victim of rape, childhood abuse, violent assault, serious accidents, natural disasters and exposure to a combat or war situation. PTSD is potentially a severe and long-term mental health condition affecting the sufferers’ quality of life in a number of ways.
Certain traumas sometimes referred to as ‘small t’ traumas result from experiences you have from childhood onwards that have left you feeling unsettled, upset or ill-at-ease within yourself, now manifesting as social awkwardness, lacking in confidence, anxious or depressed… These traumas are likely rooted in particular life experiences which at the time felt anxious, humiliating, embarrassing, guilty or shameful… these feelings and the associated thoughts can remain unresolved, now leaving you with an emotional and psychological burden which can hinder your quality of life in an ongoing way.
How EMDR works
At the time of a traumatic event, strong emotions can interfere with your ability to completely process the experience and one moment becomes frozen in time, the experience therefore remaining unresolved and not brought to a healthy manageable conclusion. Recalling the traumatic event may feel as though you are reliving the event all over again because the images, smells, sounds, and feelings are still there and can be triggered in the present. When activated, the memory or memories can cause a destructive impact on your daily functioning creating emotions such as fear, panic, anxiety, depression and guilt.
EMDR therapy appears to directly affect the brain, unfreezing the traumatic memory allowing you to process and resolve it. Over time the disturbing memory, associated beliefs, feelings and sensations are processed and worked through in a way that enables you to think about the event without reliving it. The memory is still there, but it is less upsetting.
The exact mechanism for the effectiveness of EMDR is yet unknown. It appears that using specific techniques such as stimulating rapid eye movements relieves the anxiety associated with the trauma so that the original event can be examined from a more detached perspective, somewhat like watching a film of what happened.
If either PTSD or 'small t' trauma is something you are experiencing I am able to offer you help using EMDR, which is currently one of the most popular and effective therapies for PTSD and ‘small T’ trauma. Please feel free to phone or email me to arrange an appointment for treatment.