What is EMDR therapy and its Use

What is EMDR Therapy?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) was developed by Francine Shapiro (Ph.D.) in the United States, in 1987. It is a relatively new therapy that has been developing mainly in the last 10 years. It is written in very bold words in neuroscience studies and WHO and American Psychological Association (APA) recommeded it as the best treatment for PTSD. 

EMDR therapy is characterized by being a brief intervention focused on the reprocessing and desensitization of past memories related to emotional trauma and/or anxiety.

According to emdr therapists in London it is extremely effective treatment for people, children or adults, who have had traumatic experiences. It is also useful for a variety of emotional and behavioral problems.

What is EMDR therapy used for?

In addition to the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, EMDR therapy is indicated for the treatment of depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, panic, compulsions, hyperactivity, pain, grief, fears and phobias, among others. It is useful for a variety of emotional (shame, guilt, anger…) and behavioral problems.

Before going any further, it is important to define what trauma is and how EMDR works.

What is a Trauma?

How can we identify traumatic memories?

Throughout life, each person is faced with paths, crossroads, choices, obstacles and daily challenges. Each experience processed and stored in our memory is assigned a meaning.

Emotional experiences exert a great weight in people’s lives. Some experiences touch, mark, sensitize, transform and trigger discoveries and learning. While other experiences are stored in our memory with an unpleasant, disturbing nature and with emotional suffering.

Experiencing a traumatic experience , such as the loss of a significant other, affective situations, dangerous situations, mistreatment, acts of violence and catastrophic events, does not mean that the person will develop an emotional trauma, just that they will be more vulnerable to greater difficulty in dealing with their emotions and the disturbing experience so that it does not condition their well-being in the future and/or develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress.

How does trauma affect us?

Everyone has had traumatic experiences in their lives. But the effects vary some have physical some have psychological or both. Most people recover quickly, but some do not.

Sometimes the impact of trauma can stay with us and affect our lives long after the initial event. Expert help may be needed to help with treatment.

Typical symptoms of a traumatic memory:

  • Recalling the traumatic experience involuntarily (unintentionally);
  • Having nightmares;
  • Dreams lived;
  • Having disproportionate reactions to small things that remind you of the event;
  • I cry easily and for no apparent reason;
  • Emotional and social distancing from formerly significant others;
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep;
  • Irritability or outbursts of rage;
  • Difficulty concentrating;
  • Constant hyper-vigilance due to real or imagined threat;
  • Eating disorders with no apparent explanation and jumps in the face of neutral stimuli.

What distinguishes an ordinary memory from a traumatic memory?

The distinction is made by analyzing the narrative of the emotional experience’s history and how the person perceives the experience to be disturbing and causing pain and suffering. The traumatic memory remains unchanged, as if frozen in time.

The narrative of this experience brings details (visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, physical and emotional), as if the temporal dimension did not exist. One cannot observe past experience without experiencing intense emotions.

While common memory fades in time, your recollection is not surrounded by the same emotional intensity (lived experience) or details.

What happens in the brain?

Traumatic memory remains unchanged mainly in the right hemisphere, responsible for regulating our emotions, with no communication with the left hemisphere, responsible for objectivity and rationality.

It is the left hemisphere that will have the necessary strategies to transform and reassign a new meaning to the emotional experience and decrease the activation of past memory, allowing it to remain in the past and not disturb the present.

EMDR Therapy and the effects on children  (Parents and caregivers)

Sometimes the traumas a child experiences are easy to identify, a death or a car accident, for example. But it’s not always that easy.

Sometimes the adult even knows what the traumas are, but the child does not.

Traumas may have happened so early in life that they are not remembered. Or, the child may have put these memories out of his mind or even “forgotten”. When children do not remember, they often show its effects through their behavior. There are often signs of emotional blockage.

For example these children may not laugh, play or smile. They can be overly obedient and/or willing to follow any adult. They may be unable to defend themselves or protest when they are mistreated.

Sometimes parents know that something is downright wrong but are unaware that something traumatic has happened.

The EMDR therapy help you with depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and antisocial behavior.