EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing. It is an evidence based Psychological Therapy that was developed by Francine Shapiro, initially to treat trauma. Are you interested in finding out more about what EMDR therapy? Are you interested in training as an EMDR therapist? If so then please do read on to find out more.
What do we work with as EMDR therapists?
Sadly we know that most people experience some form of trauma throughout their life. Whether this is what us as therapists have come to see as big T trauma’s an accident, an attack, a sexual assault etc or small t trauma’s bullying at school, relationship breakdowns etc.
Many people get through these times and find that the impact of the trauma is not long standing. However many people continue to struggle and either have significant trauma symptoms or hold on to negative beliefs because of what they have experienced. This can continue to have a negative impact on their functioning.
If our clients felt overwhelmed, shocked or traumatised by experiences throughout their lives they can continue to have a big impact on functioning. These experiences can continue to impact our clients a long time after they are over. But it doesn’t have to be that way. EMDR can help our clients get past their past. If this interests you then you may be interested in training as an EMDR therapist.
How does EMDR make sense of our clients difficulties?
EMDR is based on a theory that current difficulties with mental health are not always about the here and now. They are often connected back to unprocessed trauma or difficult experiences that have happened to our clients.
We know that the body has a physiologically based system that is driven towards healing, we know if we get a cut, our body will do what it needs to heal that cut. How amazing is that? We don’t tell it to, we don’t pause and watch it doing it’s magic, it just does what it does.
If however that wound were to become infected, the infection will need to be treated before the body can do what it does to heal. To use this as an analogy, it’s as if the past trauma is an infection in the wound and we need to process and work through that trauma to be able to allow the body to do it’s natural healing.
EMDR aims to understand what are the trauma memories that have caused an imbalance in the system and stopped natural psychological healing from occurring. We then process through these experiences. To use the physical health analogy, treat the infection so that the body can do what it needs to do to heal itself.
You will find out much more about this when you start your training as an EMDR therapist.
What happens in an EMDR session?
Our clients need to feel safe and comfortable enough to process their trauma memories. In many ways it seems strange to think that focusing more on the trauma and processing it will help. Usually we try and not think about these things and hope that they will just disappear. But we know that in the long term that doesn’t really help.
During an assessment we identify the trauma memories connected to the difficulties our clients are experiencing day by day.
When we are ready to process the trauma memory. We activate the trauma memory by bringing it from the back of our clients minds and focusing on it. We then use bilateral stimulation which is moving awareness from the right and left side of the brain. This can be done in a number of ways but it can include following a light from side to side, tapping from side to side or listening to a sound such as a beep in a headset that alternates from side to side.
What are some of the ideas about how EMDR works?
The research is still a little mixed about how the bilateral stimulation helps. There are a number of different theories, it could be similar to the rapid eye movements we get during sleep. Most of us can connect with the idea that sleep is reparative and often wake up feeling different about something that was troubling before we settled to sleep.
We are also taxing the short term memory. The short term memory is like a loop. It only holds so much information and the information then needs to be filed away in it’s appropriate place. So taxing this whilst thinking of the trauma memory can lead to it being filed away in it’s appropriate space.
EMDR therapy recognises that the problems we have in the here and now are often connected back to unprocessed trauma memories that have happened to us in the past. Therapy involves us identifying what those key memories and experiences are. Therapy generally starts with a period of developing a sense of safety and learning tools to help manage difficult emotions. We will then begin to process your trauma memories.
Through processing these trauma memories we can sever the connection to the past, enabling our clients to live better in the here and now. If you train as an EMDR therapist, this would be what you can add to your therapy skills.
Whats the next step if I want to train as an EMDR therapist?
In the UK we always recommend you look for a training course that is Accredited by EMDR Europe, you can be confident that the course then meets the high standards as outlined by EMDR Europe. You can find out about accredited courses here .
We at Mindsync EMDR training offer Accredited training and you can find out more about us here