EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation & Reprocessing) was originally designed to treat traumatic or "dysfunctional" memories and experiences and their psychological consequences, and the procedure has mainly been used in the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).. However EMDR has been increasingly used over the years to treat e.g., test and performance anxiety, anxiety and panic disorders, pain, sexual dysfunction, and a wide range of experientially based disorders.
EMDR uses bilateral stimulation, usually in the form of eye movements, but also sometimes in the form of bilateral auditory or tactile stimulation. There is a great deal of evidence that bilateral stimulation speeds up the reprocessing of disturbing emotional or traumatic material and at the same time helps the client in making contact with disturbing material in a safer way than without the bilateral stimulation.
After psychological assessment as to whether EMDR would be suitable for the presenting problem, the therapist will elicit a memory representing the problem. The client will be asked for a picture that represents the memory, a negative belief that they have about themselves in relation to the memory, and to notice associated physical sensations. Thereafter, a number of sets of eye movements or other bilateral stimulation are introduced. After each set of eye movements the therapist will ask the client what they noticed. The images, emotions, and sensations experienced change through this process. These changes become more positive and adaptive as the client reprocesses old unhelpful, dysfunctional information. The therapist then aids a connection with adaptive and more functional information. The aim is always to enable the client to recollect the original traumatic material without disturbance and to have new and more adaptive beliefs about themselves in relation to the experience. EMDR can be used very effectively with Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT).
With less complex traumas or experiences in adult life, EMDR can be very rapid in its effects. Average treatment times for these kinds of problems are from 3 to 5 sessions. With more "complex" or multiple traumas treatment can take longer. When combined with CBT, the treatment combination can be even more powerful, dealing with past and current problems, and preparing the client with a psychological toolkit that can be used to address future situations
The brain has two halves, left and right hemispheres. Lateralization refers to those behaviours and cognitive abilities that each hemisphere specializes in. For example, language ability is primarily localized in the left hemisphere. The right hemisphere is primarily involved in the processing of nonverbal processes.
Left and right brain hemispheres
Connections between the left and right brain hemispheres
The eye movement stimulate the movement of information through the corpus callosum (the brain structure that connects the left and right hemispheres of the brain). This stimulation facilitates the processing and metabolisation of negative memories. It also helps embed positive, more adaptive cognitions and beliefs.
EMDR was originated and developed by Dr Francine Shapiro in the United States in 1987.
The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) approves EMDR
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is the independent organisation responsible for providing national guidance on the promotion of good health and the prevention and treatment of ill health.
For details see http://www.nice.org.uk/page.aspx?o=CG026niceguideline
EMDR is used by UK Police Forces, Fire Brigades, the US and UK military and is approved by the United States Department of Defence.
The BBC has some interesting details about EMDR in it's All in the Mind program see http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/science/allinthemind_20020624.shtml
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Nadim Siddiqui, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist
47 Oldham Road
Oldham ,OL3 5EB.
Tel 07977 400678
Tel 01457 87 8875
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