How Does EMDR Work?Posted by on


(Eye Movement Desensitisation & Reprocessing)

When we are caught in a distressing situation or environment, we may feel overwhelmed and our brain may be unable to process the information like a normal memory. The distressing memory becomes frozen on a neurological level. This can manifest itself acutely with symptoms such as intrusive thoughts, disturbing dreams, distressing flashbacks, excessive hypervigilance, avoidance of reminders and lack of focus. It can also simply consist of persistent feelings of being bothered now by something in the past. Even without clear explicit memories to recall, EMDR can still be effective.

During EMDR, the client is shown eye movements, similar to the rapid eye movement (REM) that occur naturally whilst in dream sleep. Sometimes sounds or tapping are also used. This alternating left-right stimulation of the brain seems to activate the frozen or blocked information processing system and help promote greater integration of distressing frozen events.

The effect is believed to be similar to that which occurs naturally during REM sleep, when deep neurological processing takes place. EMDR helps reduce the distress of all kinds of memories, whether it was what you saw, heard, smelt, tasted, felt or thought. Reprocessing is usually experienced as something that happens spontaneously and new connections and insights are felt to arise quite naturally from within. Distressing memories lose their intensity and become neutral memories evoked without alarmed immediate re-experiencing. It effectively means that a person’s trauma-related symptoms can be relieved in a very short space of time. Moreover, this change is permanent once processed.

by Awards for All.

EMDR, as a powerful psychological treatment method, is recognised by NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) and WHO (World Health Organisation).


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