Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing

Traumatic Memory


EMDR works toward reducing and easing symptoms that result from traumatic experiences that occur in peoples lives. It assists to improve functioning, and ability to sustain and maintain health relationships and employment.

EMDR was developed in 1987 by Clinical Psychologist Francine Shapiro, and it is designed to allow trapped trauma memories to be released, desensitised, reprocessed and resolved.

Event/Sensory Stimuli – includes details regarding the visual, smell, sound and touch elements of a traumatic memory.

Emotional/Physical Memory – is called the body memory. Activation of this part of the trauma memory reactivates the body or physical sensation associated with the event.

Personal Meaning – is the meaning the trauma event has or holds for you. It is the core belief that forms as a result of the traumatic experience. It is presently held and has emotional resonance.

A comprehensive assessment takes place prior to commencing the processing phase of EMDR and you will be provided with additional skills and self soothing resources to assist in managing control over your trauma symptoms.

At the beginning of the processing phase of EMDR you will be asked to bring into your conscious awareness all the components of the trauma memory network including the event/sensory stimuli, the emotional/physical memory and the personal meaning.

The therapist will commence BLS (bilateral stimulation) once the trauma memory is activated and this will occur through eye movements, or thera tappers.

This produces electrical activity in the brain that enables the trauma memory to be released, changed and processed to a state of resolution so the trauma memory no longer has the same affect upon you as it did prior to the EMDR processing.

Lengthy discussion does not occur with the therapist during the processing phase of EMDR so that the trauma is able to be released from the brain and so the electrical activity is not disrupted.

You will be asked to ‘just notice’ or observe the feelings, beliefs, sensations and images that emerge during the processing phase. During this time you don’t need to analyse, sensor or block any of the distressing emotions or bodily sensations, just simply go with them as this is when the brain is working with the electrical activity to work your brain toward trauma recovery and resolution.

Your therapist will help you to process with BLS until new, realistic and health perceptions and perspectives about the self, other people and the world arise and feel true. There are not right nor wrong answers as it is your brain processing the trauma, and each session will be tailored to meet your needs.

Processing can occur for up to 48 hours after the EMDR session, and your body and brain will be working during this time to toward clearing traumatic memory.

Any questions in regards to the process can be discussed with your therapist.

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