Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a therapeutic approach which is predominantly used to help people overcome traumatic events and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It is recommended as a treatment for trauma in the NICE guidelines.
In addition it can also be effective as a standalone treatment of an adjunct to other forms of therapy for anxiety, phobias and some chronic health conditions. In a nutshell, EMDR is an intervention that aims to eliminate the impacts of negative memories. It is based on evidence that shows that when someone is very upset, their brain cannot process information like it ordinarily would, and one moment or a series of traumatic incidents may become ‘stuck’ in time.
Such memories may have a lasting and negative impact that interferes with the way a person views the world and the ways they relate to others. EMDR provides an opportunity for the brain to ‘reprocess’ these traumatic memories in order to achieve or regain health and overall well-being. This is achieved by alternating left-right stimulation of the brain with eye movements, sounds or gentle taps during EMDR sessions. In successful EMDR therapy, the meaning of painful events is changed and integrated on an emotional level.