EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing)
EMDR is a technique developed to treat traumatic emotionally-charged memories.
Do you frequently have upsetting thoughts about something really bad that happened to you? Have recurring nightmares? Experience very strong feelings of distress, including physical discomfort, when you are reminded of it? Do you ever act or feel as if the traumatic event is happening again (this is often called 'a flashback').
If these experiences persist over time you may feel "jumpy" or be easily startled. Have you decided to avoid anything that reminds you of the traumatic event? You may find it difficult to feel positive because you cannot sleep, you are more tired or irritable than usual and have difficulty in concentrating. Perhaps you have started to feel different, or distant from other people?
These symptoms may follow a short-lived but extremely traumatic event such a a road accident, unexpected physical attack, childbirth ordeal or natural disaster. They may also be experienced by people who have suffered repeated traumatic or humiliating events over a longer period of time such as physical or emotional abuse in childhood, domestic abuse or neglect. EMDR has also been found to be helpful for people with obsessive or compulsive behaviours, jealousy, performance anxiety, some sexual difficulties and persistent pain.
The underlying assumption of EMDR is that we human beings have a natural tendency towards mental health. It allows us to access unprocessed emotional memories of previous experiences, enabling us to identify what is useful and let go of the rest. Where unprocessed emotional memories interfere with daily life, bilateral stimulation is used. Visual, auditory or tactile prompts are used in a rhythmic left-right pattern. You might be asked to watch a hand or moving light alternating from left to right and back again, or listen to sounds that alternate between your left and right ears. This accelerates the brain's information processing system.
Following a successful EMDR session, you will no longer relive the images, sounds, and feelings when the event is brought to mind. You still remember what happened, but it is less, or no longer, upsetting .