EMDR is a well respected & effective psychological treatment method that was developed by an American clinical psychologist, Dr Francine Shapiro, in the 1980s. Since then a wealth of research has been conducted demonstrating its benefits in treating psychological trauma arising from experiences as diverse as war related experiences, bullying, childhood sexual and/or physical abuse or neglect, natural disaster, assault, birthing or surgical trauma, road traffic accidents and workplace accidents. Since its original development, EMDR is also increasingly used to help individuals with other issues (OCD, panic attacks, phobias, pain relief, and performance anxiety. EMDR has been found to be of benefit to children as well as adults.
When a person is involved in a distressing event, they may feel overwhelmed and their brain may be unable to process the information like a normal memory. Their normal fight or flight reactions doesn’t work and the distressing memory seems to become ‘frozen’ on a neurological level. When a person recalls the distressing memory in their thoughts, dreams or flashbacks, they seem to re-experience what they saw, heard, smelt, tasted or felt, and this can be quite intense. Sometimes the memories are so distressing, the person tries to avoid thinking about the distressing event to avoid experiencing the distressing feelings. Some people describe themselves as feeling ‘fragmented’ from past traumas. Not able to think clearly or react wisely.
Some find that the distressing memories come to mind when something reminds them of the distressing event, or sometimes the memories just seem to just pop into mind. The alternating left-right stimulation of the brain with eye movements, sounds or taps during EMDR therapy, seems to stimulate the frozen or blocked information processing system- it’s a bit like how our natural nightly REM (rapid eye movement) sleep helps us to file away the things that happened to us today as we sleep. EMDR helps to refile disturbing memories from files that seem to be left open– not filed away since events in the past traumatized or froze us in ‘file open mode’. In a way, it’s like defraging your computer, which eliminates spaces by grouping similar events together and thus frees up more space for you to relax in and fill.
In the process, distressing memories seem to lose their intensity, so that the memories are less distressing and seem more like ‘ordinary’ memories. EMDR helps reduce the distress of all the different kinds of memories, whether it was what you saw, heard, smelt, tasted, felt or thought. The effect seems to be much deeper than other therapies and is part of the NHS NICE guidelines for trauma.
After EMDR People describe themselves as peaceful, less agitated, able to relax, less hypervigalent about similar distressing issues, able to sleep, ‘being less fragmented’, and whole again.
An Explanation of EMDR. The science of it and a persons experience https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTLLfdcJE0Q
Video to Explain EMDR Therapy to Adults. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=blJZQAr9nQo
Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lPsBPH2M1U
Francine Shapiro talks about how EMDR was developed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GUd5hhnkVE
Francine Shapiro Ph.D. EMDR Webinar “The Past is Present” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsQbzfW9txc
Bessel Van Der Kolk’s book The Body Keeps the Score describes how EMDR was first used with WWII veterans and then with Children who were neglected and abused. After this they realized that it had far greater use with the general public on their distressing (small t) and traumatic (Big T) life experiences.
ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) Study: http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/03/02/387007941/take-the-ace-quiz-and-learn-what-it-does-and-doesnt-mean• Adverse Childhood Experiences Study https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adverse_Childhood_Experiences_Study
Some Other Helpful Links on EMDR Articles are:
Decrease Your Nightmares https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lv38dzpcxfA The better sleep gained, helped decrease the PTSD symptoms experienced in the day by 50%.
Music to Calm you
Relaxing Gentle Waterfall – Beautiful Bird, Nature & Sounds of the Forest Relaxation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRTMCDFxQYE
You Tube has lots of relaxing nature sounds such as rivers, ocean waves, cats purring etc. You can use them in the day-time to relax and at night for a good night sleep.
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