EMDR - Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing

What is EMDR?

When a person experiences a trauma, it can become locked within its own memory network, and the sensory experience connected to the trauma can become frozen at that point in time in both the body and mind. There is thus difficulty in processing the trauma, and this leads to a variety of symptoms such as PTSD. This is where EMDR comes in.

EMDR aims, through a protocol of prescribed sequenced steps, to activate a client’s information processing system, and then stimulate the system through bilateral stimuli such as alternating eye movements. This is designed to stimulate accelerated information processing, and access channels of association. In doing so the trauma can be processed so as to clear out past disturbance through to an adaptive resolution, improving both present and future functioning.

The treatment process was founded and developed during the 1980’s by Francine Shapiro, Ph.D, an American psychologist and educator. Dr Shapiro first published research to support the benefits of EMDR in 1989. To date she has written and co-authored more than 60 articles, chapters, and books about EMDR.

“EMDR is a bizarre and wondrous treatment. We found that, of people with adult-onset traumas, a one-time trauma as an adult, that it had the best outcome of any treatment that has been published.”
― Bessel A. van der Kolk

Recognition of Treatment for Trauma and PTSD

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends EMDR for trauma-focused therapy, which is unsurprising considering the research confirming its efficacy.

Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing therapy is an empirically validated treatment for trauma and negative life experiences. As of 2014, twenty-four randomised controlled trials support the positive effects of EMDR therapy in the treatment of emotional trauma and other adverse life experiences.

Seven of ten studies report EMDR therapy to be more rapid and/or more effective than trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy. Twelve randomised studies of the eye movement component noted rapid decreases in negative emotions and/or vividness of disturbing images, with an additional 8 reporting a variety of other memory effects.

Numerous other evaluations document that EMDR therapy provides relief from a variety of somatic complaints, and an efficient approach to address psychological and physiologic symptoms stemming from adverse life experiences (Shapiro, 2014).

Dealing with Trauma and Other Presenting Issues

Trauma emanates from devastating and/or ongoing events or experiences that cause somebody to develop faulty beliefs about themselves, and question the world and their being. Whilst EMDR is primarily used to overcome symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it has been found to help other mood and anxiety disorders, including depression, phobias, and panic disorder.

A review of published studies on how effective EMDR is for treating trauma-associated symptoms in people with psychosis, bipolar disorder, unipolar depression, anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, and chronic back pain found that EMDR does indeed improve these symptoms.

The review also found evidence that EMDR may even help improve the other, non-traumatic symptoms found in mood disorders and may be useful as an additional treatment for people who have chronic pain. (Star, 2018)

Your EMDR Qualified Practitioners

Both Dr Sandra Westland and Dr Tom Barber are a highly experienced practitioners in working with trauma using the latest psychological approaches, including EMDR.

Sessions last approximately 60-70 minutes and usually around 5-6 sessions are required.

To arrange your first session of EMDR online or in Colchester simply send us a message here.