This healing process generally occurs when we are asleep, particularly when we are experiencing rapid eye movement.
However, this natural way of coping can be overwhelmed, by a major trauma – childhood abuse or a car accident, for instance – or even by a seemingly minor incident, such as a knock to your self-confidence.
Sometimes when this happens the brain fails to deal effectively with the event.
Emotions such as panic or anxiety that are felt at the time can become stuck or blocked, and then triggered again and again over many years. The mind replays the event and the feelings associated with it, instead of processing the experience and moving on.
EMDR therapy utilises the body’s natural healing process. While asking questions about a disturbing memory, the counsellor recreates eye movements similar to those that occur during REM sleep, while you feedback on what was experienced.
Under a guided process, the upsetting emotion fades into the past and loses its power to disturb. It has been processed.
EMDR has been successfully used to treat a range of conditions, including panic attacks, depression, addictions and eating disorders, pain relief, self-esteem and performance anxiety. As recommended by NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence), and WHO (The World Health Organisation), it is effective for dealing with many different kinds of trauma and works both face to face and using online therapy.