A psychotherapy technique used to relieve psychological stress.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an interactive psychotherapy technique used to relieve psychological stress. It is an effective treatment for trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Your therapist will ask you to bring to mind an image associated with a traumatic memory, then they will move their finger to and fro across your visual field. This will continue for a short while before your therapist will stop and ask you to comment on your experiences during the set of eye movements. It is likely you will notice some changes in the image you started with, thoughts about it and sensations in your body.
Following several sets of eye movements, the painful memory becomes more neutral and loses its intensity.
Generally, at the end of EMDR therapy sessions, clients report an improvement in their mood and the removal of unpleasant thoughts, feelings and body sensations when they recall a traumatic event. EMDR also has a cognitive component, so that the beliefs you have about yourself become more adaptive.
The 2012 World Health Organisation Practice guidelines recommend EMDR as a frontline treatment for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, but it has also been successfully used to treat other types of anxiety, depression, stress, phobia, sleep problems, addiction problems, complex grief and pain. A good deal of research has established that EMDR is an effective, reliable and valid treatment.
For more information on EMDR, click here.