What is EMDR Therapy?

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing , which means desensitization and reprocessing through eye movement. EMDR therapy was developed by Francine Shapiro, an American psychologist, in 1987. It is a psychotherapy based on the Adaptive Information Processing Model and was initially used for the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Currently, it has also been effective in treating other psychological health disorders, such as Anxiety, Depression, Eating Disorders or Addictions. If you want cosultantion or want to get the best emdr therapist in London then you can visit us at City Psychological services.

This model considers that the symptoms of psychological disorders are the result of past disturbing experiences , which continue to generate suffering , since the memory has not been adequately processed. Thus, these unprocessed memories contain emotions, physical sensations, thoughts and beliefs (disturbing elements) that arose at the time of the traumatic event or adverse life experience. Whenever these memories are activated, the person re-experiences the associated disturbing elements and the symptoms of PTSD or other psychological health disorders appear.In this context, EMDR therapy will allow access and processing of traumatic memories, enabling an adaptive resolution, reducing suffering and modifying negative beliefs.

EMDR recreates what happens naturally during sleep or REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep , with the aim of changing the way memory is stored in the brain, reducing symptoms or eliminating them entirelyThat is, to desensitize the negative charge of memory and reprocess it so that emotions and associated cognitions are more adaptive. During therapy, the person focuses on the traumatic memory and, simultaneously, the therapist performs a series of bilateral stimuli, which can be visual (ie, moving the eyes from side to side), auditory or tactile.

The sessions are individual, with a duration of 60 to 90 minutes, ranging from 6 to 12 sessions, with a weekly frequency, following an eight-phase protocol. It is a safe therapy with no negative side effects. However, it should be noted that EMDR therapy can only be practiced by Psychologists and Psychiatrists with specific training in this psychotherapy.

There is already a lot of research on EMDR, but the inclusion of this therapy in some guidelines of international professional organizations has reinforced its credibility, such as the American Psychiatric Association (APA) , the Department of Veterans Affairs and the US Department of Defense , the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

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How it works? 

Its main focus is on disturbing experiences that contribute to problems in everyday life. 

EMDR therapy works by reprocessing such a disturbing experience with bilateral stimuli such as eye movements, sounds and touch. 

After the experience is successfully processed, it is adaptively stored, integrating with other similar experiences of the individual, that is, it will not be forgotten, it will be neutralized.

EMDR step by step

The therapy consists of 8 phases :

Phase 1: Clinical History

In this phase, information is collected regarding the initial complaint, identifying relevant memories in the patient’s life, both positive and negative, as well as the past or present.

Symptoms are caused by memories that have been improperly processed. 

Phase 2: Preparation

This phase aims to prepare the patient for the reprocessing, assesses whether the person is prepared for the processing and establishes a therapeutic alliance. 

Applies tools/resources to the patient to help them work through the experience.

Phase 3: Evaluation

Accessing the experience already identified in phase 1. Accessing the memory of how it is stored in the present so that it can be worked on in order to achieve reprocessing. In this phase, negative cognition (NC) is worked on, which is a belief that the patient brings that represents the distortion that the patient has about himself. Positive cognition (PC) is also worked on and this represents the belief they want about themselves.

Phase 4: Desensitization

Reprocess the chosen memory and the experiences that accompany it in order to promote an adaptive solution.

Phase 5: Installation 

Ensure that the “positive belief” link (positive statement about the patient) is reflecting the patient’s experience.

Phase 6: Body scan

It is the search for residual bodily sensations that still need to be reprocessed.

Phase 7: Closing

It is the finalization of the work with the memory through the cessation of the EBL process and its interruption of the bilateral stimuli and guaranteeing the stability of the patient at the end of the session.

Phase 8: Reassessment

It is intended to focus attention on the process of change that the patient is experiencing, assessing the patient’s progress globally. Such reprocessing will continue between sessions.

Who can do EMDR?

  • Children respond more easily to treatment because they don’t yet have as many complex memory networks.  
  • teenagers and 
  • adults.

In what situations can it be used?

  • Phobia,
  • panic disorder,
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder,
  • Depression,
  • Pain and Grief,
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

These are some of the examples.

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