What happens in a session?
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) is different for everyone, because the healing process is guided from within. A comprehensive history will be taken before memories are targeted and processed. Often past issues or memories come up, which are related to the current concern.
Sometimes a painful memory brings up unpleasant emotions or body sensations – this is normal and generally passes within a few minutes as long as the processing is continued. You will be asked to recall a distressing memory and focus on what was seen, heard, felt and thought. You will then be instructed to follow my fingers back and forth with your eyes. These eye movements are carried out in sets or saccades until the memory becomes less disturbing and is associated with a positive thought or belief about yourself. The upsetting emotion or memory often seems to fade into the past and lose its power or charge. The nice thing about EMDR is that you don’t have to go into much detail about the memory – whatever comes up comes up and its up to you how much of the information you choose to verbalise.
Is EMDR hypnosis?
No it is not. Processing utilises all your own thoughts and you are fully awake.
Will I be in control?
In EMDR you are always in charge of when to start or stop. You can decide how much to tell me about the experience being processed. I am on hand as a guide to help keep you on track and to gain maximum benefit from the session.
Does EMDR really work?
About 20 controlled studies have investigated the effects of EMDR. These studies have consistently found that EMDR effectively decreases/eliminates the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for the majority of clients. People often report improvements in other associated symptoms such as anxiety. Numerous studies designate EMDR as an effective treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It has also been endorsed by the:
- Australian Psychological Society (APS) noted EMDR as a Level 1 Treatment for PTSD in their published results for “Evidence Based Psychological Interventions: A Literature Review” 2010 for both young people and adults. This is the highest rating that can be applied to a specific therapeutic approach.
- Phelps, Andrea Treatment Guidance for Common Mental Health Disorders: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder InPsych 2014
- PTSD Guidelines Phoenix Australia – Centre for Post Traumatic Mental Health
- WHO releases guidance on mental health care after trauma World Health Organisation (WHO)
- Overview of Psychotherapy for PTSD US Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense
- Treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) NHS Choices United Kingdom Department of Health
- Clinical Practice guidelines American Psychiatric Association
- Current treatment guidelines The International Society for Traumatic Stress.
- Israeli National Council for Mental Health
- Dutch Guidelines of Mental Health Care.
- Numerous other international health and government agencies.
What happens afterwards?
Sometimes you can continue to process the material for days or even weeks after the session, perhaps affording new insights with vivid dreams, strong feelings or memory recall. This can be confusing but its just a continuation of the healing process and should be discussed with me at the next session. If you becoming suddenly depressed or concerned don’t hesitate to contact me immediately. It is inadvisable to make any big life-changing decisions straight after engaging in EMDR therapy – wait 48 hours.
How long does it take?
One or more sessions are required to acquire an accurate history, establish the nature of the problem and to decide whether EMDR is an appropriate treatment for you. The typical EMDR session lasts 90 minutes. The nature of the problem, life circumstances, and the amount of previous trauma, will determine how many treatment sessions are required. For some people a few sessions learning stabilisation techniques may be necessary before proceeding.