EMDR Therapy in London
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprogramming) is a deep, transformative, embodied psychotherapy approach. It started out as a treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and is currently recommended as the main treatment approach for this (together with trauma-focused CBT) by NICE-Guidelines – but has in recent years also found to be amazingly effective with Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Phobias, Grieving and Attachment Issues (namely, problems in forming happy and lasting relationships as a result of difficult experiences, especially in childhood, like abuse, neglect, loneliness, bullying etc.).
The underlying idea of EMDR is that we all have traumas from the past. These might be big traumas, or “just” a string of emotional injuries, which we might not even recall individually, but which have an accumulative, significant effect.
These traumas can severely interfere with our ability to function and enjoy our lives in the present.
What does EMDR typically help with?
- Trauma (severe accidents, having been attacked physically/verbally etc.)
- Phobias (e.g. Fear of flying, spiders, mice etc.)
- Chronic Pain
- Grieving (complex/long lasting grief)
- Attachment Issues (childhood problems like neglect or abuse, leading to difficulties in current relationships)
- Fear of Success/performance enhancement
- Low self-worth
- Anxiety and Panic Attacks
How does EMDR work?
EMDR was discovered by Dr. Francine Shapiro, an American Clinical Psychologist and Senior Research Fellow, in 1987, and has been thoroughly researched, documented and developed further since.
In a nutshell, traumatic memories are stored in the stem brain (in pop-psychology also referred to as the “Reptile Brain”), which is the ancient part of our brain. It deals with survival under threat, e.g. Fight, Flight and Freeze responses. Traumatic memories are experienced as a) present, even if they happened decades ago and b) emotionally overwhelming.
When things go well, these memories are processed by the brain automatically, for example during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, and then stored in the frontal lobe (the logical or “Owl Brain”, which can assess whether a threat is current or not, how to deal with it – and is altogether less emotionally charged). If things haven’t processed naturally this way, you might experience flashbacks, phobias and sudden bouts of fear, for which you have no rational explanation.
In these cases, EMDR can be tremendously helpful. Through a special technique, the therapist stimulates the left and right brain hemispheres, which induces processing similar to that occurring in REM sleep. However, you will be awake and fully conscious at all times and retain, with the help of the skilled therapist, a “dual awareness”, i.e., while you engage with the difficult memories, you remain fully present in the here and now, in a safe, warm and encouraging environment, securely held by your therapist.
Thus you will not be ‘retraumatised’, but can process these events in a safe and contained way.
What is an EMDR session like?
In the beginning, we will take a long and thorough history of how your life has been so far and assess together which difficult times you want to work on. After that, the experience is radically different from traditional “Talking Therapy”. While your brain is asked to “free associate”, to spontaneously go where the difficult (and positive) memories are, there is far less talking. The therapist will not analyse or interpret this, but just facilitate the process by administering short sets of ‘Bilateral Stimulations’, for example by eye movements, hand taps or sounds (e.g. clicks alternating between the left and the right ear). Between each set we make sure you remain present in the here and now, and, while there might be a lot of emotion coming up, we will make sure together that you feel safe and held.
Sessions are typically longer (65 – 90 minutes) and you will be asked to keep a diary between sessions, so that we can check together what might have come up and how you have been feeling.
A session of 70 minutes is charged at £105, if a longer session is required, this will be charged pro rata.
Generally, EMDR process even complex and long-standing issues very quickly, so that we might look at 6 – 15 sessions for an issue (sometimes less, occasionally more, if one trauma connects to a number of others, which also need to be processed).
Please click, if you would like more information on what to expect in EMDR treatment.
What is the current scientific research on EMDR?
If you would like to find out more on the science, please look at these two links:
The Role of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy in Medicine: […], by F. Shapiro, in: The Permanente Journal/ Winter 2014/ Volume 18 No. 1
The Evidence on E.M.D.R. in: The New York Times Blog, 2nd March, 2012.
Madeleine is a fully trained EMDR therapist, who trained in London with Sandi Richman, who is an internationally acclaimed EMDR specialist and accredited EMDR Trainer and Consultant (EMDRIA) and EMDR Europe Association (EMDR-E).
If you have any questions or would like to see whether EMDR is right for you, please feel free to contact me.
Please go to the contact page to book an EMDR session in London.