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Therapy: EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation & Reprocessing)

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy is a form of structured therapy that encourages to briefly focus on the traumatic memory while simultaneously experiencing bilateral stimulation (typically eye movements), which is linked to a reduction in the vividness and emotional intensity associated with the trauma memories.

It is an effective psychotherapy method proven to help people recover from trauma and other distressing life experiences, including PTSD, anxiety, depression, and panic disorders. EMDR therapy does not require talking in great depth about the distressing issue or completing homework between sessions.  Nevertheless, you need to be aware of, and willing to experience, the strong feelings and disturbing thoughts, which sometimes occur during sessions. EMDR therapy, rather than focusing on directly changing the emotions, thoughts, or behaviours resulting from the distressing issue, allows the brain to resume its natural healing process.

As the mind can often heal itself naturally, in the same way as the body does – EMDR is utilising such ability that is innate to us all. Much of this natural coping mechanism occurs during sleep, particularly during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Francine Shapiro developed Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) in 1987, making most of this natural process in order to successfully treat Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Since then, EMDR has been used to effectively treat a wide range of mental health problems.

When something out of the ordinary and extreme occurs we may become traumatised by an overwhelming event and our natural coping mechanism can become overloaded. This overload can result in disturbing experiences remaining frozen in your brain or being "unprocessed’’. EMDR helps create the connections between your brain’s memory networks, enabling your brain to process the traumatic memory in a very natural way.  Similar to the REM sleep, your therapist will be recreating those states by asking you to watch the their finger moving backwards and forwards across your visual field. Sometimes, a bar of moving lights or headphones is used instead.  You will then be asked to report back on the experiences you have had during each of these sets of eye movements. Experiences during a session may include changes in thoughts, images and feelings. With repeated sets of eye movements, the memory tends to change in such a way that it loses its painful intensity and becomes more of a neutral memory of an event in the past. Other associated memories may also start healing at the same time.

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