Eye Mobilisation Desensitisation & Reprocessing (EMDR
In the late 1980’s Dr Helen Shapiro discovered a connection between eye movement and the processing of persistent upsetting memories. With this personal insight she went on to a lifelong study and development of the model of therapy that has become known as EMDR. In it’s early development it was primarily used for the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) however research has shown it to be a powerfully effective model of therapy for not only the treatment of PTSD, but a wide range of other conditions including unresolved grief, anxiety disorders, phobias and other mental health disorders.
EMDR facilitates the accessing and processing of traumatic memories and other adverse life experiences and brings them to an adaptive resolution. This is done by integrating the experience that causes the fear, disturbance and distress and allows the latter to dissolve the catastrophic imprint that has been left on the nervous system by such events. The traumatic disturbing memory network is accessed so information processing is enhanced, and new associations are forged between the trauma memory and more adaptive memories and / or information. These new associations are believed to result in complete information processing, new learning, elimination of distress and development of new cognitive insights.
EMDR sessions involve the client attending to the emotional disturbing material in short sequential doses, within their ‘window of tolerance’ while simultaneously focusing on external stimulus.
The external focus used in EMDR can be a light that the client focuses on, or tapping on their own body (usually with their crossed arms and taps given on alternate shoulders / collar bone area) or the therapist may use their hand.
EMDR can provide successful treatment for 75-80% of clients and it can then affectively relieve distress. Their negative beliefs are then reformulated and their physiological arousal is reduced.
Repeated studies have shown that EMDR can provide the benefits of therapy that once took years to make a difference. It has long been assumed that deep emotional pain takes a long time to heal but EMDR shows that if the right environment is provided for the mind, it can heal as swiftly from a physiological trauma, as the body would from a physical one. The brain’s information processing system naturally moves towards mental health. A block in the system can cause pain and suffering but once it is removed, healing can begin.