Trauma, whether due to a single incident or repeated childhood exposure, often leaves a legacy of significant emotional, psychological and physiological symptoms, many of which may feel totally unrelated to each other.
Many individuals with a history of trauma have received a number of different mental and physical health diagnoses without any awareness that their symptoms are related to the impact of the original trauma and the associated dysregulated nervous system that develops as a result.
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation & Reprocessing) is recognised by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Unlike most forms of talk therapy, EMDR focuses less on the traumatic event itself and more on the disturbing emotions and symptoms that result from the experience.
The therapy involves identifying unprocessed traumatic or distressing experiences which continue to drive an individual’s psychological disturbance. The client is asked to recall the worst aspect of the memory together with the accompanying problematic thoughts and associated bodily sensations.
Simultaneously the client is directed to move their eyes from side to side, or employ another form of bilateral stimulation (BLS). This desensitises the client to the distressing memory, and more importantly allows them to process it. The associated symptoms become more adaptive and leads to long-lasting relief.
EMDR has also been shown to be effective in helping other areas of difficulty such as, anxiety, phobias, addiction and complicated grief.
An animation explaining how EMDR works for adults
An animation explaining how EMDR is used when working with children and teenagers
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