What is eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR)?
Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy treatment that helps individuals heal from painful or traumatic memories and experiences.
It is thought that EMDR facilitates the accessing of the traumatic memory network. By accessing this area of the brain, EMDR ‘unlocks’ the negative memories and emotions stored in the nervous system, and helps the brain successfully process the experience in a healthier way.
This understanding points at why some of the EMDR protocols appear to have such a remarkable effect on individuals who have previously appeared ‘stuck’ or ‘treatment resistant’.
EMDR is included as a recommended therapy in the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence in the UK for trauma and PTSD. However, EMDR is known to support individuals suffering from a wide range of other mental health conditions, such as depression, OCD, phobias, panic attacks and addiction.
How does EMDR work?
EMDR therapy shows that the mind can recover from psychological trauma in the same way that the body can recover from physical trauma. Like in the human body, once a wound is opened up and cleared, healing resumes.
EMDR is conducted by an accredited and experienced EMDR practitioner. Initially, the patient will meet with the therapist for an initial assessment, including identifying several targets for treatment. This can include past memories, current triggers and future goals. From there, a phased treatment plan will commence.
In a session of EMDR, an individual is asked to bring an unpleasant image, memory or negative belief related to their traumatic event or situation to mind. With these thoughts and images in mind, individuals are also asked to move their eyes side-to-side for several seconds. Other methods may include the therapist tapping their finger or playing a tone.
Afterwards, the individual will breathe deeply, and discuss their feelings and emotions with the therapist. Feelings and memories that come to the fore during the session can then often be used in future exposure exercises. This cycle continues until distress has reduced, and the individual changes the negative way they think about their trauma.
Benefits of EMDR can include:
- Recovery from trauma
- Transformation of long-held beliefs
- A lighter perspective
- A ‘quicker’ way of healing from emotional trauma
- Promotes ongoing well-being
- End symptoms attached to PTSD including nightmares
- Becoming less emotionally reactive
Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) at Nightingale Hospital London
At Nightingale Hospital, EMDR can be accessed in an individual or group setting as part of an outpatient, day patient or inpatient programme. We have several clinical psychologists with a breadth of experience in all mental health conditions to match your individual situation.