I am a qualified and accredited counsellor with the BACP for counselling/psychotherapy. With regards to EMDR training, I am part trained and currently working towards gaining practice hours and completion of my certificate. I am nonetheless fit to practice having completed the first two modules of the accredited training programme with https://www.emdracademy.co.uk/emdr-training – the modules I have completed covered EMDR for trauma /PTST, anxieties and phobias.
I work with those affected by trauma using a therapy called EMDR. Often EMDR is used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is an anxiety disorder which may develop following exposure to any one of a variety of traumatic events that involve actual or threatened death, or serious injury, for example a rape, shooting, or car accident. The event may be witnessed rather than directly experienced, and even learning about it may be sufficient if the persons involved are family members or close friends. Sufferers may experience flashbacks, panic attacks and heightened awareness. PTSD is sometimes found in ex-military personnel who have been involved in conflict situations.
Nonetheless, in EMDR we talk about trauma in terms of BIG T and small t traumas.
The ‘BIG’ and ‘small’ traumas of life – what do they look like?
A BIG T would involve actual or threatened death, or serious injury
small t’s are non-life threatening experiences, like, stumbling at the front of assembly and the whole school laughing at you or being bullied at work. Experiences such as these can be excruciatingly painful, humiliating and frightening and when many such instances accumulate over time this can lead to quite serious levels of anxiety and depression. EMDR is a therapy that works to put these experiences behind you.
What is EMDR?
EMDR stands for ‘Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing’ and is a therapeutic approach with the goal of reducing distress in the shortest period of time. EMDR is the treatment of choice and is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) for Post-Traumatic Stress (PTSD).
EMDR works towards helping you to put frightening, painful, tragic, or humiliating experiences behind you whether they are recent or past experiences.
What can EMDR be used for?
In addition to its use for the treatment of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, EMDR has been successfully used to treat:
- anxiety and panic attacks
- self-esteem and performance anxiety
How does EMDR work?
Distressing events can leave you feeling overwhelmed and your brain may be unable to process what has happened and store it in the same way as a standard event. Thus the distressing memory becomes frozen on a neurological level. When you recall the distressing memory you might feel that you are actually experiencing it all over again and this can be very intense. Sometimes people just try to avoid thinking about the distressing event so that they can avoid experiencing these feelings. Often there is a trigger that sets off the distressing memory and re-experiencing, or sometimes it can just hit you, or pop into your mind.
Part of the reprocessing of memories in EMDR is based on eye movements or taps in a left-right stimulation of the brain which seems to stimulate the frozen or blocked information processing systems. The eye movements replicate REM (Rapid Eye Movement) that occurs naturally when we sleep. REM sleep begins with signals from an area at the base of the brain called the pons. These signals travel to a brain region called the thalamus, which relays them to the cerebral cortex – the outer layer of the brain that is responsible for learning, thinking, and organising information. Thus EMDR therapy aims to replicate REM in order to learn, think and organise information around the distressing event/memory and store it in a different, more manageable way.
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