Breaking through Trauma
'Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing'
EMDR is a powerful and rapid psychological treatment method that was developed by an American clinical psychologist, Dr Francine Shapiro, in the 1980s. She published the first research data to support the benefits of the therapy in 1989. It was originally developed to treat the distress associated with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.
EMDR has continued to be developed over the last 25 years and now is used widely to treat a range of conditions.
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When a person is involved in a distressing event, they may feel overwhelmed and their brain may be unable to process the information like a normal memory. The distressing memory seems to become frozen on a neurological level. When a person recalls the memory, the person can re-experience what they saw, heard, smelt, tasted or felt, and this can be quite intense. Sometimes the memories are so distressing, the person tries to avoid thinking about the traumatic event to avoid experiencing the distressing feelings.
Some find that the distressing memories come to mind when something reminds them of the traumatic event, or sometimes the memories just seem to just pop into mind. The alternating left-right stimulation of the brain with eye movements, sounds or taps during EMDR, stimulates the frozen or blocked information processing system.
In the EMDR process, the distressing memories seem to lose their intensity, so that the memories are less distressing and seem more like 'ordinary' memories. The effect is believed to be similar to that which occurs naturally during REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement) when your eyes rapidly move from side to side. EMDR helps reduce the distress of all the different kinds of memories, whether it was what you saw, heard, smelt, or tasted.