Eye-movement and Desensitisation Therapy (EMDR)

EMDR (Eye-Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing), is a powerful psychological treatment method that was developed in the late 1980’s, primarily for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, and draws on our knowledge about how the brain works, how memories are stored and how the different parts of the brain interact.

When an individual is traumatised, he/she may experience such strong emotions that their brain becomes overwhelmed in that moment and is unable to cope with, or process information as it usually does. The distressing experience becomes ‘frozen in time’. Such events are stored in the brain in their original ‘raw’ form and can then be repeatedly remembered as ‘action replays’ or intrusive memories/’flashbacks’. Remembering in this way may feel as bad as experiencing it the first time because the images, sounds, smells, and feelings aren't changed or processed. Such memories have a lasting negative effect on the way a person sees themselves, the world and other people. It can have a profoundly negative effect on all aspects of their lives.

EMDR therapists help clients reprocess their traumatic memories by using a method that involves repeated left-right (bilateral) stimulation of the brain (e.g. with eye movements or tapping) while noticing different aspects of the traumatic memory. It is believed that bilateral stimulation creates biochemical changes in the brain that aid processing of information.

Some people believe that EMDR stimulates the natural processes of the brain that occur during dreaming or REM (Rapid Eye Movements) sleep but it’s effects may also be linked with increased attentional flexibility (i.e. being more able to ‘unstick’ from distressing thoughts/memories), enhanced distancing (i.e. the problem seems smaller and further away) and decreased physiological arousal.

Following successful EMDR treatment, traumatic memories are no longer painful when brought to mind. What happened can still be recalled, but it is no longer upsetting and there is awareness that it is a memory of something that occurred in the past rather than something that is happening in the present.

Within Resonate Psychology, EMDR is only offered as a treatment approach by Bryany.