What is EMDR?
Highlighted by David Servan Schreiber in ‘Healing without Freud or Prozac’ Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR) was discovered by accident in 1987. Like all effective forms of therapy for post traumatic stress it is based on exposure therapy but taps into normal brain physiology to produce a ‘compelled’ relaxation response. The particular strengths of EMDR are that it produces long lasting results extremely quickly, is very well tolerated by clients and can even be done ‘blind’ to therapist (that is in very sensitive issues, the client can be treated without the therapist ever knowing what the traumatic event was).
Normally, the individual processes traumatic experiences naturally. However, when a person is severely traumatised, either by an overwhelming event or being repeatedly subjected to distress, this healing process may become overloaded, leaving the original disturbing experiences unprocessed. These unprocessed memories can be stored in the brain in a ‘raw’ form where they can be continually re-evoked when experiencing events that are similar to the original experience.
It differs from CBT in that EMDR focuses on how the brain ‘deals with’ information rather than the learning theories.
Clients generally report that the emotional distress related to the memory has been eliminated or greatly decreased and that they have gained important cognitive insights. Importantly, these changes usually result in spontaneous behavioural and personal change which are further enhanced with EMDR.
It is an effective and thoroughly researched treatment for post traumatic stress and associated anxieties. (NICE 2005)
Who can it Treat/What can it treat?
EMDR is efficient in treating individuals who have experienced psychological difficulties arising from traumatic experiences, such as assault, road traffic accidents, war trauma, torture, natural or man-made disasters, sexual abuse and childhood neglect. It is increasingly used to treat complaints which are not necessarily trauma-related, such as panic disorder, phobias, performance anxiety, self-esteem issues and other anxiety-related disorders.
Who offers this treatment/therapy
Ginny Dobson is a psychotherapist with over 25 years experience of working with a wide range of emotional problems. She trained in EMDR in 1996 and is a Europe approved EMDR practitioner and cognitive therapist. She is a clinical supervisor and provides a counselling service to Dorset Fire and Rescue Services and the corporate sector. She has worked as a volunteer clinician with veterans and first responders in California and studied at the Department of Veterans Affairs. She works with adults and children. She worked as a Clinical Nurse Specialist in the NHS before taking up private practice in 1996.