EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) is a type of psychotherapy that is recommended by NICE (The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence), APA (American Psychological Association) and WHO (World Health Organisation) for the treatment of trauma symptoms.
Many people might associate the term ‘trauma’ solely with experiences such as war, childhood sexual/physical abuse or neglect, natural disaster, assault, road traffic accidents, racialisation and oppression. This is a common misconception and limited view of the term. Psychological trauma refers to any instance where a person’s psychological mechanisms and the brain’s natural ability to process information is overwhelmed, and might also occur in 'smaller scale' traumatic incidents. In the aftermath of these events, thoughts, feelings or memories about those events can get 'stuck' and it can be hard to move on from them. Many people recover naturally, but others may develop symptoms that prevent them from engaging in life in the manner that they would like. In chronic cases, these symptoms can be debilitating.
EMDR treatment incorporates interventions that appear to mimic the brain's natural way of processing information that occurs during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. These interventions create bilateral stimulation of the brain (and might include side-to-side eye movements, tonal sounds played through headphones, or tapping either side of the body), all of which you will be interactively guided through during your therapy session. For this reason, EMDR might seem quite different to any previous experiences of therapy.
The effect of EMDR therapy can be conceptualised as 'rewiring' the brain so that the person in treatment can begin to live free from the symptoms of trauma. One of the pros of working in this way, is that it is not necessary to go into the detail(s) of the traumatic event(s), which might be experienced as less distressing for the person in treatment.
Treatment length is dependent on the level of trauma to be processed. Many people experience positive results within a few sessions, while for others processing could take longer, with a usually positive outcome.