Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Mental Health

I qualified as a Chartered Clinical Psychologist over 20 years ago. Whilst this has helped with accumulating a wealth of knowledge and clinical experience, it has also meant there has been an increased need for continued professional development (CPD).

As a trainee clinical psychologist in 1998 I was fortunate to observe my supervisor and I undertook the transcribing of clinical EMDR sessions with trauma clients. It was remarkable to observe how post-traumatic stress was overcome and managed using what I regarded then as a novel technique. It is no longer regarded as novel and is widely used, endorsed by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE).

EMDR involves bilateral stimulation of the brain using visual, auditory or touch input whilst the therapist carefully takes the client through a tried and tested protocol using sound observational and clinical skills.

Now that I am trained in the same therapeutic technique, EMDR has perked my interest even more. EMDR is primarily known for treating Post Traumatic Stress. What is less well known is that this technique has been researched extensively to incorporate a whole breath of mental health challenges such as depression, phobias, sleep problems, complicated grief, addictions, pain relief as well as self – esteem and performance anxiety.

EMDR is helpful in accelerating therapy by resolving the impact of past painful memories (reactions of which are held both in the body and mind), therefore allowing the person to live more fully in the present. This makes it easier for them to make active choices to live a life that they value and to reduce avoidant behaviour which come in the way of that. EMDR therefore, fits very well with other therapeutic approaches such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) with mindfulness and Acceptance and Behaviour Therapy (ACT) and can be used as part of the therapeutic process.

EMDR has been observed to bring about positive physical anatomical as well as neurobiological and chemical changes in the traumatised brain. After undergoing EMDR, unpleasant emotions and physical sensations relating to the trauma are easier to process and overcome, no longer holding the intense negative charge that can be debilitating. This reduces the intensity of unpleasant triggers and leads to a better quality of life.

It would be my pleasure to work with clients seeking therapy or clinicians seeking to be active in this therapeutic manner. A great technique which deserves all the credit it receives.