On Monday 6th June 2011 Radio 4's You and Yours Programme highlighted the intention of the Ministry of Defence to support its military personnnel suffering from PTSD ( Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). They are agreeing a three year contract to fund clinicians to provide EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing ) a form of psychotherapy recommended by NICE the National Institute for Clinical Excellence as a suitable treatment for psychological trauma.
The Radio 4 programme interviewed people who had been treated with EMDR, one of whom was the mother of a murder victim who had been unable to move past the horrific details of her daughter's death to rebuild her life. The EMDR treatment helped this mother to find a way to accept that her daughter could no longer be hurt, was no longer suffering. These ideas did not come from the therapist but from the client herself who had been asked to imagine in what circumstances she could imagine being able to recover...."If my daughter was safe" ...she had replied. The EMDR process helped her to realise this and come to terms with the situation.
EMDR helps clients to access their own natural healing and intuitive wisdom. It also seems to help clients to build new more adaptive connections and so to become more resourceful following trauma. EMDR is an integrative therapy that works with the body's own natural processes involved in perception and storing of information and making sense of experiences on an emotional and cognitive level. It is a powerful and effective therapy and therefore should only be used by qualified professionals who are experienced practitioners in their own right.
EMDR is sometimes presented as a 'quick fix'. It can work very quickly to resolve trauma symptoms but it also needs to be used judiciously as it is not suitable for everyone and a skilled assessment must be made. Sometimes people who have experienced many traumas in their lives expect a short treatment of EMDR to resolve all their difficulties, again this is not realistic. 8 -12 sessions is reasonable for the resolution of a one off traumatic event that is now over. For more complex situations taking place over years a more detailed assessment is necessary and therapy is better then conducted in phases, with EMDR as part of the overall approach.
EMDR UK and Ireland has produced an information sheet explaining how EMDR works and also listing the research evidence that supports its use for a number of conditions other than PTSD. EMDR seems to be effective in treating a variety of anxiety driven conditions such as phobias, performance anxiety, and complex grief. These newsletter are reproduced here for the benefit of those who are interested. For anyone wishing to find out more about EMDR availability at the Hope Street Centre, please contact Jessica Woolliscroft or Maurice Tomkinson on 01270 764003.