What is it?
EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprogramming.
Who is it for?
EMDR is a NICE-recommended therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
EMDR is an effective and well researched therapy for people suffering from PTSD. When people become the victim of a traumatic event they sometimes experience such strong emotions that the brain is overwhelmed and unable to process information. Distressing experiences become ‘frozen in time’, stored in the original ‘raw’ form and can recur as ‘action replays’ or intrusive memories, where the person feels as if they are repeatedly reliving the original event. Distressing nightmares are common, as is generally feeling on edge all the time and avoidance of certain activities. Often, over time these symptoms reduce naturally as the brain tries to make sense of the traumatic events on its own accord. Sometimes however, we may need help from a therapy such as EMDR to be able to move on.
EMDR works by facilitating the brain to process traumatic memories and file them away into the past. It uses bi-lateral stimulation (typically eye-movements) to help the brain to do this. It appears to mimic what the brain does naturally during dreaming or REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep in order to integrate incoming information. It is also client-centered, helping the individual to resolve the trauma in the way they need to. In EMDR the client does not have to go into detail about what happened. Nevertheless, it can be an intense and emotional process and you need to be in a reasonably stable situation (both internally and externally) to be able to tolerate some distress.