Eye movement reprocessing and desensitization (EMDR)
EMDR is a psychotherapy that can be used either on its own or in combination with other methods like counselling or CBT. In essence it is a structured approach that identifies and targets problems in an individual’s past, present and future. It focusses on the premise that any current psychological issue is based on historical trauma and if that can be dealt with then the problems may be resolved. Clients do not need to know what this historical trauma is for EMDR to work, the therapist helps them find it. Once found, the identified incident will be treated with bilateral stimulation. This is either eye movements, tapping, or sounds that will be moving quickly from one side to the other.
There is debate about what this is doing but it appears to promote a relaxation effect which helps the painful feeling attached to the traumatic memory to dissipate. There may be several things from the past that need to be addressed and this is done in an order that the client agree with their therapist. Clients and therapists then move onto to consider current or potential future issues.
EMDR is currently recommended for posttraumatic stress disorder but many therapists in the private sector will offer it for a range of mental health issues and psychological growth, such as performance enhancement. It is important to note that these are not supported by research but they have not been shown to be ineffective either.
As with all therapy, clients can ask for their therapist’s credentials. More information can be found at the website for the EMDR Association of the UK and Ireland http://www.emdrassociation.org.uk/home/index.htm