What is EMDR Therapy and How Can it Help Me?

EMDR therapy has been found to be effective in treating a wide range of conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorders, depression, phobias and more. It can also help those struggling with low self-esteem, relationship issues and performance anxiety.

Healing Through Eye Movement – Introduction

In the realm of therapy techniques, Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) stands out as a unique and effective approach for processing past traumas, anxieties and distressing memories.

It was developed in the late 1980’s by psychologist Francine Shapiro and has gone on to gain widespread recognition and acceptance in the field of mental health.

Understanding EMDR – What’s it all about?

At the core, EMDR therapy is based on the ideas that disturbing experiences, can get “stuck” in the brain and contribute to ongoing distress and dysfunction.

These experiences may include traumatic events, distressing memories, or even negative beliefs about yourself. EMDR aims to assist the brain with reprocessing these memories and experiences, allowing individuals to heal and move forward.

How does it work?

During an EMDR session, the therapist guides the client through a series of bilateral stimulation exercises, typically involving the rapid movement of the eyes from side to side. This bilateral stimulation is thought to mimic the natural processing that occurs during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, a phase of sleep associated with memory consolidation and emotional processing.

 As the client focuses on the traumatic memory or experience, the stimulation activates different parts of the brain, facilitating the reprocessing of memory. Over time, the memory becomes less distressing and the emotional charge diminishes.

The phases of EMDR

1 – History taking and planning

Your EMDR therapist will gather information about your history and identify target memories or experiences requiring work.

 2 – Preparation

Your therapist will help you develop coping skills and relaxation techniques to manage any distress during EMDR sessions.

 3 – Assessment

You will identify any negative beliefs you have associated with the target memory as well as positive beliefs you wish to adopt.

 4 – Desensitisation

The client focuses on the target memory whilst engaging in the bilateral stimulation. This phase reduces the emotional intensity of the memory.

5 – Installation

You now reinforce positive beliefs and self-statements associated with the target memory.

6 – Body Scan

Clients check for any residual physical tension or discomfort related to the memory.

7 – Closure

Your therapist will ensure you leave sessions feeling stable and grounded.

8 – Re-Evaluation

In subsequent sessions your therapist will assess progress and identify any further targets for processing

Who can benefit from EMDR?

One of the most significant benefits of youth mental health first aid is its potential to reduce mental health crises and prevent tragic outcome, such as suicide. By identifying warning signs and knowing how to respond effectively, we can intervene promptly and signpost young people to the appropriate professional help. These life-saving skills can make a profound difference in the lives of countless individuals, families and communities.

How many sessions will I need?

According to PTSDUK (ptsduk.org) individual therapy typically delivered once or twice a week averages 6-12 sessions, although this changes according to the individual.

In general, ‘the more isolated the traumatic memory being treated, the shorter the treatments tend to be. People with multiple traumas and / or complex histories of childhood abuse or neglect may require more extensive therapy.

Studies relating to the number of sessions required have shown:

  • 84-90% of single-trauma victims no longer have PTSD after only 3 sessions (lasting 90 minutes each)
  • 100% of the single-trauma victims and 77% of multiple trauma victims no longer were diagnosed with PTSD after only 6 sessions (lasting 50 minutes each)
  • 77% of combat veterans were free of PTSD in 12 sessions

Interested to learn more?

Many of our highly qualified and experienced team at Mind Growth Mastery offer EMDR as a service. If you would be interested in a discussion around sessions please contact us via email. Alternatively, take a look at some of our other BLOG articles as there may be a more suitable therapy for you. We are on hand and happy to help.