Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
EMDR in Wolverhampton, West Midlands
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapeutic procedure that was developed by Francine Shapiro to resolve the development of trauma-related memories caused by exposure to distressing events such as rape, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), physical abuse or neglect, surgical trauma and road traffic accidents. Since its original development, EMDR is also increasingly used to help individuals with other issues such as performance anxiety, grief, phobias, panic disorders, pain, sexual dysfunction, and a wide range of experientially based disorders.
The Research and Evidence Base
The evidence base for the effectiveness and efficiency of EMDR, in particular for treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and trauma related problems, is extremely strong. As such EMDR is acknowledged as effective in the treatment of PTSD by The UK DOH National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) March 2005 in the Guidelines for the Management of PTSD. Also, independent reviewers for the American Psychological Association (APA), who placed EMDR on a list of "Empirically Validated Treatments" for civilian PTSD (Chambless et al 1998). It has been designated an effective psychotherapy for PTSD in the practice guidelines of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (Chemtob et al 2000, Shalev et al 2000).
In research terms, the most powerful method of ascertaining the effectiveness of procedures is through what are called "Randomised Controlled Trials" (RCTs). Currently there are over 20 RCTs on EMDR and PTSD, which is a considerable outcome research base in a relatively short period of years since the seminal papers on EMDR in 1989, and represents a considerably greater research interest in this area than in any other single approach whether psychological or pharmacological to PTSD. Overwhelmingly, these RCTs demonstrate superiority for EMDR against its comparisons.
Given its wide application and evidence base, EMDR is rapidly becoming the psychotherapy treatment of choice.
How Does EMDR Work?
When a person is involved in a distressing event, they may feel overwhelmed and their brain may be unable to process the information like a normal memory. The distressing memory seems to become frozen on a neurological level. When a person recalls the distressing memory, the person can re-experience what they saw, heard, smelt, tasted or felt, and this can be quite intense. Sometimes the memories are so distressing the person tries to avoid thinking about the distressing event to avoid experiencing the distressing feelings.
Some find that the distressing memories come to mind when something reminds them of the distressing event, or sometimes the memories just seem to just pop into mind. The alternating left-right stimulation of the brain with eye movements, sounds or taps during EMDR, stimulate the frozen or blocked information processing system.
In the process the distressing memories lose their intensity, so that the memories are less distressing and seem more like 'ordinary' memories. The effect is believed to be similar to that which occurs naturally during REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement) when your eyes rapidly move from side to side. EMDR helps reduce the distress of all the different kinds of memories, whether it was what you saw, heard, smelt, tasted, felt or thought.
What Issues Can EMDR Address?
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Combat trauma
- Road traffic accident
- Workplace accident
- Childhood trauma
- Stage fright
- Fear of dentists
- Witness to violence
- Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Parental neglect
- Natural disaster
- Surgical trauma
- Overwhelming fears
- Panic attacks
- Sexual issues
- Fear of flying
The EMDR Process
When you first meet with your EMDR therapist they will spend time getting to know your history. This generally includes the kind of distress you are experiencing, the kind of difficulties have you experienced, if you have physical problems, if you are taking medication and explore the support you have. If your therapist feels EMDR is suited for your difficulty, they will describe the EMDR model to you and explain the theory.
You can ask your therapist questions and express any concerns you may have. Your therapist will spend some time doing some relaxation exercises with you, which could include 'safe or pleasant place' exercises, guided visualisation and deep muscle relaxation, breathing retraining.
Once you and your therapist feel that you are sufficiently prepared, you can then target a distressing memory with the eye movements or other forms of left-right alternating stimulation, such as sound or taps. Your therapist will ask you to select an image that represents the distressing event. You will then be asked to think about negative and positive thoughts, your feelings, the amount of distress you feel and where you feel it in your body.
Your therapist will then begin the eye movements while you hold the image in mind. After each set of eye movements your therapist will ask you what came to mind or what you noticed during the eye movements. During the eye movements you may experience the distressing event quite intensely to start with, but this distress generally reduces as the memory is processed with EMDR.
Your therapist will continue with the eye movements until your distress is reduced as much as possible. Your therapist will then ask you to think about your positive thought and also check whether there is any part of your body where you still feel distress. Before the end of the session, your therapist will give you time to feel calm again, using the safe-pleasant place exercise or relaxation techniques.
How Many EMDR Sessions Would I Need?
When the distressing or traumatic event is an isolated, single incident such as a traffic accident, approximately three to five sessions are necessary for comprehensive treatment. When multiple traumatic events contribute to a health problem-such as physical, sexual or emotional abuse or combat trauma the time to heal may be longer for the treatment to be complete and robust. However, research to date suggests that EMDR is the most efficient and rapid psychotherapeutic procedure available for the treatment of traumatic memories and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Our EMDR Therapists
EMDR is a complex and powerful therapy that should only be performed by qualified and accredited psychological health professionals. Our EMDR therapists are qualified counsellors and psychotherapists who are accredited with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). Our EMDR practitioners have completed full and verified EMDR training that is accredited by EMDR Europe.
Our EMDR clients come to us via several routes:
- The general public: Individuals can contact us directly to arrange an EMDR appointment.
- Organisations: An organisation may contact us to arrange EMDR for one or more of their staff.
- Health insurance providers: A number of our therapists are registered with major health insurance companies. Please ask about this when you get in touch.
- Other professionals: A professional such as GP, solicitor or social worker may contact us to arrange EMDR for one or more of their clients.
Payment is made at the end of each session via cash or cheque. For further details of our pricing structure for our self-funding clients (the general public) please click: Fees
If you are an organisation, GP, social worker or other third party referral agent please telephone our Wolverhampton counselling practice for further details or our corporate pricing structure.
Make an Appointment
If you would like to arrange an appointment, make a referral or require further information about EMDR please telephone our Wolverhampton practice on: 01902 827808. Alternatively fill out our online contact form. For information regarding our opening hours please visit our practice opening hours page.