What is EMDR?
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy treatment used to help a variety of mental health conditions including trauma, addiction and anxiety as well as other negative emotional conditions. It can help to manage distressing memories and reduce cravings in addictions.
Why do negative emotions need to be addressed?
Traumatic memories can cause both psychological and physiological repercussions. The physical and mental effects of memories can be extreme and may include depression, eating disorders and self-destructive behaviours. Negative experiences and feelings, ranging from shame, guilt, resentment, anxiety and depression to a traumatic event can have a vast impact on a person’s life. These feelings and experiences can cause a person to feel distressed and uncomfortable and may have an overall impact in how they function in their day to day life.
What happens during EMDR?
During EMDR therapy, bilateral stimulation (right/left eye movement), tactile stimulation (touch) or sound is used to repeatedly activate the opposite sides of the brain, releasing emotional experiences that are "trapped" in the nervous system. This helps the neurophysiological system - the basis of the mind and body connection- to free itself of ‘blockages’, allowing it to reconnect. It is one of the most effective methods for healing post traumatic stress disorders, as seen within several scientific research studies.
What are the common results following on from EMDR?
All in all, EMDR allows a person to process an emotional experience that they have had difficulty talking about. Experience has shown that following EMDR treatment the person can develop the ability to talk about their trauma more freely, and in a way that may have proved difficult in the past. Most importantly EMDR can remove the stress surrounding the traumatic event, allowing the once traumatized and emotionally difficult memory to heal and, in time, to repair. More recently, EMDR has been used within addiction treatment. Addiction to a substance or behaviour is often the result of many different factors, including the repression of traumatic memories as well as the feelings linked to the memories. EMDR along with addiction protocol treatment, helps the person become able to tolerate and manage distressing memories or feelings. This then helps to reduce cravings and triggers by numbing the negative emotions associated with the addictive behaviour, and in turn enables the reprocessing of those memories into something more positive.
Author: Nick Kypriotis, Client Relations Manager and Psychotherapist (MSc, FDAP NCAC) at The Kusnacht Practice