Do you experience strong reactions in certain situations that later seem out of proportion to the actual event? Do you find yourself avoiding certain situations because you know they’re going to provoke unpleasant feelings and sensations? Have you adopted certain behaviours (drinking, over-eating, drug-taking, self-harm) in order to numb intense feelings?
When we experience a life event as emotionally overwhelming, (perhaps because of the enormity of the event itself, or because we were in some way helpless or vulnerable when it happened), our brains get “flooded” and may be unable to fully integrate the experience at the time. Physical sensations, emotions, thoughts, and images associated with the event then become “frozen in time”, and continue to be triggered by events which connect in some way (which may not be immediately obvious) with the original distressing event. Further distress can be caused by our attempts to cope with these upsetting symptoms; for example, we may attempt to numb the feelings and sensations through addictions or some other form of avoidance, and these behavioural changes can impact on our general wellbeing and on our relationships.
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) aims to locate the events that set up the problem in the first place, then facilitate the person’s reprocessing of them so that they get filed away as normal memories. The person still remembers the original events, but without the emotional distress. Furthermore, new similar events will be experienced afresh, rather than as a re-triggering of past trauma. After successful EMDR therapy, the person will often feel lighter, freer and more whole.
EMDR has helped millions of people heal from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) resulting from traumatic events such as rape, sexual abuse, road traffic accidents and combat. It can also help people who are experiencing distress resulting from other upsetting events, such as divorce, life transitions, grief and anxiety.
For more information about EMDR and how it can help you, please visit my Trauma Counselling Website.