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EMDR - Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is a powerful relatively new therapeutic technique that has helped many thousands of people find healing from a wide range of personal and emotional difficulties.

How does EMDR work?

It’s thought that when a disturbing event occurs, it can get locked in our nervous system with the original picture, sounds, thoughts and feelings. This material can combine factual material with fantasy and with images that stand for the actual event or feelings about it. EMDR seems to unlock the nervous system and allows the brain to process the experience. Some scientists liken EMDR to what happens in REM or dream sleep – the eye movements may help to process the unconscious material. During the therapy, the client is totally conscious – there is no hypnotism involved at all – and it’s their own brain that is doing the healing.

How effective is EMDR?

Research studies have shown that EMDR can markedly accelerate the healing process after a traumatic experience and that the effects are long lasting. In fact, there are more scientifically controlled studies on the treatment of post traumatic stress disorders with EMDR than with any other form of psychological treatment. EMDR is highly effective, preferred by clients and generally of shorter duration than other treatment methods.

Who may benefit from EMDR?

Initially, EMDR was used to treat the unresolved effects of traumatic experiences of USA Veterans from the Vietnamese War. Its application has become increasingly more wide-spread over the years as its capacity to heal unresolved traumatic experiences has been demonstrated in many different contexts, including survivors of:

- Domestic violence and other forms of adult abuse;
- Childhood sexual, emotional and physical abuse, and neglect;
- Death/suicide of work colleagues or family members or close friends;
- Personal assaults, muggings, robberies, and other ‘crimes against the person’;
- Bullying
- Torture, whether as a child or adult;
- Car, train and other accidents;
- Perinatal trauma (before, during & after birth of child)
- Disasters.

Witnesses of...

It is important to remember, too, that even to witness the above events can lead to PTSD, especially in children. Children only have to witness abuse, rather than to experience it themselves, to risk suffering severe long-term psychological damage.

People in vulnerable roles...

Some occupations place people in positions where they experience chronic stress reaction. Such roles include: Military, Emergency Services, NHS staff, security personnel, teachers, social works, train drivers, bus drivers, Probation Officers, Overseas Relief and Development Workers and many more. All these occupations are likely to expose their people to:

- Angry and abusive customers or clients
- People who are distressed and suicidal
- Supervisors or managers who bully
- Injured, ill, dying or traumatised people.

Couples and families...

EMDR is effective in resolving the effects of trauma long after, even many years after, the underlying critical events happened. Because of this, we have found EMDR to be extremely useful in working with families and couples where relationships are being adversely affected by unresolved PTSD in one or more members, or where their ability to function well in specific roles, such as a parent or lover, have been adversely affected.
People with anxiety based problems….

A variety of such disorders have in recent years been successfully treated with EMDR including:

- Performance anxiety (e.g. over exams, driving tests, ‘stage fright’ etc.)
- Panic attacks
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorders
- Phobias

For Trauma Related...

Addictions and substance abuse, self-harming, episodic rage, depression, self-esteem issues.

And Most Recently...

Research has shown EMDR to be effective in a range of conditions such as Phantom Limb Pain, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Body Dismorphic Disorder (a psychological condition where a person is excessively concerned about and preoccupied by a perceived defect in his or her physical features).

Experience at Swift

Swift therapists provide EMDR treatment in Boughrood, Powys, mid way between Brecon, Hay on Wye and Builth Wells, mid-Wales.

We have seen clients experience remarkable healing of trauma/PTSD in their lives, from such diverse circumstances as childhood sexual abuse, bullying, a history of failure to pass exams however well prepared, road traffic accidents, claustrophobia, extreme anxiety about health, violence suffered in childhood, body pain and more. Also, we work with children, for whom EMDR is extremely effective in bringing healing.

What to expect

The simplest way to think about EMDR is that it un-lock’s the nervous system so that strongly imprinted traumatic memories can be processed through into long-term memory, during which the disturbing emotions, body sensations, visual images and thoughts are lost, and a new and more appropriate cognitive evaluation of the experience is developed. Once completed, the process leaves behind a memory of a previously traumatic experience that no longer generates distress.

A typical EMDR session lasts 60-90 minutes. It is a non-hypnotic, non-drug procedure. It is non-directive and does not require the therapist to know all the details of the event being processed. It is client led and always remains in their control.

View some of our case examples.