What is EMDR ?
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) is a powerful psychological technique, which uses bilateral brain stimulation, such as eye movements, to reduce many types of emotional distress. (Shapiro 1989).Such distress may be caused by trauma or disturbing experiences, stress and anxiety. EMDR is not as stressful as some other treatments and is often preferred by patients. EMDR works rapidly.
How does EMDR work?
When an individual is traumatised, they experience such strong emotions that it is thought to overwhelm the brain. Normal brain functioning or processing is interrupted and the memories of the trauma seem to become “frozen in time”. An individual consequently often painfully relives the event and subsequently becomes very distressed. They do all they can to avoid reminders of the event. Their lives may be affected generally.
EMDR seems to directly influence the way that the brain functions. It helps to restore normal ways of dealing with problems, (i.e. information processing). Following successful EMDR treatment, memories of the event are no longer painful when brought to mind. What happened can still be recalled, but it is less upsetting. EMDR appears to mimic what the brain does naturally on a daily basis during dreaming or REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. EMDR can be thought of as an inherently natural therapy, which assists the brain in working through distressing material.
Is EMDR effective?
EMDR is an effective and proven treatment for PTSD and traumatic memories. (Coetzee & Regel 2005) The process of EMDR has been extensively reviewed in Advances in Psychiatric Treatment by MacCulloch (1999) and by Coetzee (2005).Research studies have shown that EMDR can markedly accelerate the healing process after a traumatic experience and that the effects are long lasting. In fact, there are now more scientifically controlled studies on the treatment of post traumatic stress disorders with EMDR than with any other form of psychological treatment. EMDR is now also used for problems other than trauma. EMDR is highly effective, preferred by clients and generally of shorter duration than other treatment methods. In March 2005 the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) United Kingdom recommended EMDR as one of the two treatments of choice (the other being trauma-focused CBT) for Post traumatic Stress Disorders.
Who practices EMDR?
Only registered health care professionals, additionally fully trained in EMDR, should practice this form of treatment. In the UK and Ireland, the body overseeing training standards is The EMDR UK and Ireland Association (EMDRUKI) and EMDR Europe (EMDREA).
Use of EMDR for earthquake victims
EMDR has been used with some success for earthquake victims. Initially it was used in America. More recently people have been trained in use of EMDR in Turkey and India.