The mind can often heal itself naturally, in the same way as the body does. Much of this natural coping mechanism occurs during sleep, particularly during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Francine Shapiro developed Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) in 1987, utilizing this natural process in order to successfully treat Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Since then, EMDR has been used to effectively treat a wide range of mental health problems.
What can EMDR be used for?
In addition to its use for the treatment of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, EMDR has been successfully used to treat anxiety and panic attacks, depression, stress, phobias, sleep problems, complicated grief, addictions, pain relief, phantom limb pain, self-esteem and performance anxiety.
Can anyone benefit from EMDR?
EMDR can accelerate therapy by resolving the impact of your past traumas and allows you to live more fully in the present. It is not, however, appropriate for everyone. The process is rapid, and any disturbing experiences, if they occur at all, last for a comparatively short period of time. Nevertheless, you need to be aware of, and willing to experience, the strong feelings and disturbing thoughts which sometimes occur during sessions.
What is an EMDR session like?
EMDR utilizes the natural healing ability of your body. After a thorough assessment, you will be asked specific questions about a particular disturbing memory. Eye movements, similar to those during REM sleep, will be recreated simply by asking you to watch the therapist's finger moving backwards and forwards across your visual field. Sometimes, a bar of moving lights or headphones is used instead. The eye movements will last for a short while and then stop. You will then be asked to report back on the experiences you have had during each of these sets of eye movements. Experiences during a session may include changes in thoughts, images and feelings.
With repeated sets of eye movements, the memory tends to change in such a way that it loses its painful intensity and simply becomes a neutral memory of an event in the past. Other associated memories may also heal at the same time. This linking of related memories can lead to a dramatic and rapid improvement in many aspects of your life. www.getselfhelp.co.uk www.get.gg
Will I will remain in control and empowered?
During EMDR treatment you will remain in control, fully alert and wide awake. This is not a form of hypnosis and you can stop the process at any time. Throughout the session, the therapist will support and facilitate your own self-healing and intervene as little as possible. Reprocessing is usually experienced as something that happens spontaneously, and new connections and insights are felt to arise quite naturally from within. As a result, most people experience EMDR as being a natural and very empowering therapy.
How long does treatment take?
EMDR can be brief focused treatment or part of a longer psychotherapy programme. EMDR sessions can be 60 - 90 minutes or longer.
What evidence is there that EMDR is a successful treatment?
EMDR is an innovative clinical treatment which has successfully helped over a million individuals. The validity and reliability of EMDR has been established by rigorous research. There are now nineteen controlled studies into EMDR making it the most thoroughly researched method used in the treatment of trauma, (details on www.emdr-europe.org and www.emdr.org) and is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) as an effective treatment for PTSD. Adapted from www.thetraumacentre.com
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