Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy
EMDR is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of traumatic life experiences. It is very commonly used in cases of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
EMDR works directly on the brain where traumatic experiences are frozen and often inaccessible to the conscious mind. The ultimate aim of the treatment is to work through the suppressed emotions linked with the traumatic experience and to take apart and reconstruct the negative self-beliefs developed as a result of the trauma. In the case of a single trauma experience sustained in adulthood, there are usually 1 or 2 assessment sessions, followed by 1 or 2 sessions discussing and preparing for EMDR treatment, followed by at least 2 or 3 treatment sessions. The number of actual treatment sessions depends on the nature and number of distressing memories or complexity of the problem.
What to expect
Your therapist will move his or her fingers back and forth in front of your face and ask you to follow these hand motions with your eyes. (Some therapists use alternatives to finger movements, such as hand or toe tapping, light beams or musical tones.)
At the same time, the EMDR therapist will have you recall a disturbing event. This will include the emotions and body sensations that go along with it.
Gradually, the therapist will guide you to shift your thoughts to more pleasant ones.
Throughout the process, you will be awake, alert and in control at all times. No trance state is induced, no suggestions are made, and the changes that occur are the result of your own innate processes.
EMDR weakens the effect of negative emotions and the ‘charge’ behind emotions when recalling the event. Before and after each EMDR treatment, your therapist will ask you to rate your level of distress. The hope is that your disturbing memories will become less disabling.
After an EMDR session, there may be a strong sense of relief, a feeling of openness or even euphoria.
The goal is to allow the person to achieve a complete state of emotional health. It has also been used to help athletes, performers and executives to achieve a state of “peak performance.”