Last week I met with a psychologist who is going to do some EMDR treatment with me. He talked me through what we’d be doing and explained a bit about the process. One of the first things he said was ‘Don’t ask me how it works’. Having a PhD in psychology, I kinda expected he would be able to give me some nerdy scientific theory, but he literally said, ‘I can’t say how it works, because nobody knows really know the brain works’. I had to simply trust his assurance that it definitely does work.
If, like myself until recently, you have no idea what this treatment is and how it can help, I thought I’d share a brief bit of info from the EMDR Association’s website. I’ll also post here when I start treatment in a few weeks to let you know how it’s going and whether it makes any difference to my PTSD symptoms.
What is EMDR therapy?
“EMDR is an acronym for ‘Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing’. EMDR is a powerful psychological treatment method that was developed by an American clinical psychologist, Dr Francine Shapiro, in the 1980s. As a Senior Research Fellow at the Mental Research Institute, she published the first research data to support the benefits of the therapy in 1989.”
What happens in an EMDR session?
From what I understand, the therapist engages the client with a series of eye movements, sounds or taps as the client recalls and focuses on their traumatic memory. The effect is believed to be similar to that of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. Somehow, this combination helps the client to reprocess the trauma and hold it as a more ‘normal’ memory, rather than an intrusive one, or one that causes flashbacks. I’ll be able to tell you more first hand in a couple of weeks when I have my first session.
There is a lot of research and evidence to support EMDR as a psychological trauma treatment, so I am hopeful it will bring me some relief from the flashbacks, nightmares and horrible body-held memories I experience. The research has proven it gets results in treating PTSD from a range of traumatic events, including:
- war related experiences
- childhood sexual and/or physical abuse
- childhood neglect
- natural disaster
- surgical trauma
- road traffic accidents
- workplace accidents.
There’s lots more info at www.emdrassociation.org.uk. And I’ll be sharing some regular updates on how things are going once my treatment is underway.
Photo: n4i, Creative Commons.