Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma. EMDR uses the brain’s natural healing mechanisms to address trauma and recovery from mental illness or relief from distressing life experiences.
The brain possesses a remarkable ability to heal itself, much like the body does. Many of our innate coping mechanisms come into play during sleep, particularly during the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep phase, often referred to as the ‘dream stage.’ However, when a traumatic event occurs, the brain’s processing system can become overwhelmed. Instead of being processed, the memory becomes ‘locked’ into the nervous system. This means that remembering the distressing or traumatic event can be as agonising as experiencing it for the first time. The images and feelings associated with the trauma remain unprocessed and unchanged.
How effective is EMDR Therapy?
Following an EMDR session, many people report changes in the issue or event that were previously distressing. Memories typically become less vivid and upsetting. The event can still be recalled but is no longer disturbing.
EMDR Therapy is one of the most well-researched trauma treatment models and has been shown to be effective in over 30 scientific studies and numerous independent reviews.
EMDR Therapy is endorsed by:
The World Health Organisation (2013)
The Australian Psychological Society (2010)
The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (2009)
American Psychiatric Association (2004)
EMDR has been an approved Focussed Psychological Strategy attracting Medicare rebates.
What can EMDR help with?
EMDR has a strong evidence base for treating PTSD. It has also been successfully used as a treatment component in the management of a range of things such as:
- Panic attacks
How many EMDR sessions will I need?
The number of required EMDR sessions can vary, depending on the nature and complexity of a person’s situation. Some traumatic memories are resolved after a few sessions, whereas others may require 10 or more sessions. For more complex issues (such as persistent trauma and abuse in early life), EMDR may be used in conjunction with other therapeutic approaches over a longer period of time.