What is EMDR?
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing is a therapy pioneered by Dr Francine Shapiro and American Psychologist. In 1987, whilst walking in the park, she noticed that, after rapid eye movements, the intensity of certain disturbing thoughts and feelings were reduced. Therapists and researchers worldwide have used her findings to develop EMDR, which uses rapid eye movements to relieve chronic distress. Recognised worldwide, it is a successful non-drug, non-hypnosis procedure.
How does it work?
During sleep we naturally undergo rapid eye movement (REM), which creates altering stimulation of the right and left hemispheres of the brain in an effort to process information. When we suffer a traumatic experience it can overwhelm our brain and we become unable to fully process this information, resulting in a disturbing memory affecting us long after it occurred. We may experience flashbacks, disturbing dreams and intrusive images/memories.
By moving the eyes rapidly back and forth, whilst concentrating on the troubling memory, EMDR therapy kick-starts and speeds up this natural healing process within the brain.
EMDR helps complete our information processing, and can replace ‘negative, maladaptive’ associations of the memory with ‘positive, adaptive’ associations. It is the brains way of “updating” the belief and memory in a more helpful way. For example; a rape victim may believe he/she is to blame for the attack. By reprocessing the victim’s associations with the memory, EMDR can enable the person to see the incident from a more helpful and adaptive perspective and see the attacker is to blame.
EMDR may form part of the therapy to help a person to overcome a psychological or physical trauma.