Psychologist Dr Kay Farquharson has recently completed the accredited training in Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR). This is a relatively new emotional health treatment that is a recommended treatment of choice in NHS National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines. Dr Farquharson is now offering EMDR in her Wednesday clinics. Here, she explains more about the treatment.
What is EMDR?
“The mind can often heal itself naturally, in the same way as the body does. Much of this natural coping mechanism occurs during sleep, particularly during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Francine Shapiro developed Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) in 1987, utilising this natural process in order to successfully treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Since then, EMDR has been used to effectively treat a wide range of mental health problems focusing on the small and large traumas that influence our thoughts, behaviours and self-beliefs.”
What happens when you are traumatised?
“When something out of the ordinary occurs and you are traumatised (e.g. by a car accident) or by being repeatedly subjected to distress (e.g. childhood neglect), your natural coping mechanism can become overloaded. This can result in disturbing experiences remaining frozen in your brain or being “unprocessed”. Such unprocessed memories and feelings are stored in the limbic system of your brain in a “raw” and emotional form, rather than in a verbal “story” mode. Memories are stored in an isolated memory network associated with emotions/physical sensations disconnected from the brain’s cortex where we use language to store memories.
Traumatic memories can be continually triggered when you experience events similar to the difficult experiences you have been through. Often the memory itself is long forgotten, but the painful feelings such as anxiety, panic, anger or despair are triggered in the present. Your ability to live in the present and learn from new experiences can therefore become inhibited. EMDR helps create the connections between your brain’s memory networks, enabling your brain to process the traumatic memory in a very natural way.
Eye movements, similar to those during deep REM sleep, are recreated simply by asking you to watch the therapist’s finger moving backwards and forwards across your visual field. With repeated sets of eye movements, the memory tends to change in such a way that it loses its painful intensity and simply becomes a neutral memory of an event in the past. Other associated memories may also heal at the same time. This linking of related memories can lead to a dramatic and rapid improvement in many aspects of your life.”
To book an appointment with Dr Farquharson, please phone her on 07967 128916 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can read more about EMDR on the EMDR Association UK & Ireland’s website.