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What is EMDR?

EMDR is recognized as an evidence-based treatment for trauma and is used by mental health professionals around the world to help individuals recover from the effects of traumatic experiences.

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, which is a form of psychotherapy that was developed to help individuals process traumatic or distressing experiences. The therapy involves a combination of bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements or tapping, and cognitive processing techniques.

During EMDR therapy, the therapist guides the client to recall the traumatic event and simultaneously engages in a form of bilateral stimulation, such as moving their eyes back and forth, listening to alternating sounds, or tapping their hands. This bilateral stimulation is believed to help the client access and process the traumatic memory in a more adaptive way.

The goal of EMDR therapy is to help the client reprocess the traumatic memory and reduce its emotional intensity, so that it no longer interferes with their daily life. This can lead to a decrease in symptoms such as anxiety, depression, flashbacks, and nightmares.

EMDR has been found to be effective in treating a wide range of mental health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorders, depression, and phobias. It can also be helpful for individuals who have experienced a single traumatic event, as well as those who have experienced multiple traumas over a longer period of time.

Overall, EMDR therapy can be a powerful tool for individuals who are struggling with the after-effects of trauma, and can help them to move forward and live a more fulfilling life.

EMDR is recognised by the National
Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) as an effective treatment for PTSD.

The History of EMDR

EMDR was developed in the late 1980s by psychologist Francine Shapiro, who was studying how eye movements affect emotional processing. She initially discovered the therapeutic potential of eye movements while taking a walk in a park and noticing that her negative thoughts had decreased as she moved her eyes back and forth.

Shapiro began experimenting with this technique on herself and others, and eventually developed the EMDR protocol as a form of therapy for individuals who had experienced trauma. She found that the eye movements seemed to facilitate the processing of traumatic memories, leading to a reduction in symptoms such as anxiety and flashbacks.

Shapiro's early research on EMDR showed promising results, and the therapy has since become widely used in the treatment of PTSD and other trauma-related disorders. While the exact mechanism by which EMDR works is not fully understood, it is believed to involve a combination of sensory stimulation and cognitive processing that helps the brain reprocess traumatic memories in a more adaptive way.

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