Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)
a brief introduction.
EMDR is a psychological therapy which was developed in the 1980’s to treat trauma based problems. Since then a sound research base has been developed and its use has been extended. It now includes the treatment of phobia, anxiety low-self, esteem, loss, violence, accidents and natural disasters.
When we experience a distressing situations (like abuse, a car accident or perhaps ridicule) it can crash back into our minds forcing us to re-live the event with the same intensity so we feel as if it is happening all over again.
The experiences which pop into our awareness can present themselves as nightmares or flashbacks which probably occur because our mind was too overwhelmed during the event to process what was going on. As a result the unprocessed memory, sights, sounds, smells, thoughts and feelings are stored in our brain in ‘raw’ form, where, when we experience something which triggers a recollection of the original event, our brain accesses the ‘raw’ memories and we experience distress.
Nothing can erase these memories but the process of EMDR can change the way traumatic memories are stored within our brains so that they cause less distressing and are easier to manage.
During an EMDR therapy session your therapist follow a set 8 stage protocol which involves assessment and treatment to process the stored memory. You will be supported to access and process the distressing memory using a technique called ‘bi-lateral stimulation’. This can take the form of eye movements, tapping or sounds which helps to unlock ‘blocked’ memories so that the brain can then process the information as normal memories.
During an EMDR session you remain totally conscious and in control. EMDR cannot be done against your will and you can stop the process at any time.
Sessions usually last between 60 and 90 minutes. The number of sessions required will depend on the nature and severity of your trauma.
The goal of EMDR is to reduce distress in the shortest period of time using an established approach with therapeutic protocols and procedures.
The benefits which people experience can include:-
- Reduced re-experiencing of the trauma
- Increased self-confidence and self-esteem
- Feeling better able to cope with trauma memories
- Enjoying activities and social interactions more
- Reduced feelings of irritability, anxiety stress and hyper vigilance
- Reduced need to avoid potential triggers
About Karen Couldridge.
I have been qualified as a Mental Health Nurse for the past 10 years. I worked in New Zealand for 2 years in both in-patient and community settings and returned to the UK 6 years ago. I currently work as a Community nurse in the NHS.
My nursing career has included working age adults and adults over 65. Encountering an increasing number of people who have experienced trauma and distress prompted me to increase my therapeutic skills and train as an EMDR therapist. I am currently training as a CBT therapist to further enhance my skill mix and enable me to offer a range of therapeutic options to clients.