What is EMDR and how has it evolved?
The mind often heals itself naturally, in the same way as the body does. Much of this natural coping mechanism occurs during sleep, particularly during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Francine Shapiro developed Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) in 1987, utilising this natural process in order to successfully treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Since then EMDR has been used to effectively treat a wide range of mental health problems. This technique over the years has been built upon by many practitioners, with one such technique being “The BLAST Technique”.
What is EMDR/BLAST Technique?
The BLAST Technique was created by Nick Davies, Warwickshire School of Hypnotherapy, after noticing that EMDR was not only a very lengthy process, but the process was done in a different order to how the brain patterns traumatic experiences. He then built upon this platform adding in other therapy modalities and creating some of his own to speed up and refine the clients’ experience. It belongs to a group of new treatments that are called Amygdala Depotentiation Techniques (ADTs).
What happens when you are traumatised?
Most of the time our bodies manage new information and experiences without being aware of it. However, when something out of the ordinary occurs and we become traumatised by an overwhelming event or by repeatedly subjected to distress our natural coping mechanism can become overloaded. This overloading can result in disturbing experiences remaining frozen in our brain or being “unprocessed”. Such unprocessed memories and feelings are stored in the limbic system of our brain in a “raw” and emotional form, rather than in a verbal “story” mode. This limbic system maintains traumatic memories in an isolated memory network that is associated with emotions and physical sensations, and which are disconnected from the brain’s cortex where we use language to store memories. The limbic system’s traumatic memories can be continually triggered when we experience events similar to the difficult experiences we have been through. Often the memory itself is long forgotten, but the painful feelings such as anxiety, panic, anger or despair are continually triggered in the present. Our ability to live in the present and learn from new experiences can therefore become inhibited. EMDR/BLAST helps create the connections between our brain’s memory networks, enabling our brain to process the traumatic memory in a very natural way.
Scientifically speaking, a trauma is shown only in one hemisphere of the brain and with bi-lateral stimulation it helps to process the memory in both hemispheres as with ‘normal’ experiences.
What can EMDR/BLAST be used for?
In addition to its use for the treatment of PTSD, this technique has been successfully used to treat:
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Sleep problems
- Complicated grief
- Pain relief, phantom limb pain
- Self-esteem and performance anxiety
What is an EMDR/BLAST session like?
This technique utilises the natural healing ability of your body. After a thorough assessment, you will be asked specific questions about a particular disturbing memory. Eye movements, similar to those during REM sleep, will be recreated simply by asking you to watch a therapist’s finger moving backwards and forwards across your visual field. Sometimes a bar of moving lights or headphones is used instead. The eye movements will last for a short while and then stop. You will then be asked to report back on the experiences you have had during each of these sets of eye movements. Experiences during a session may include changes in thoughts, images and feelings.
With repeated sets of eye movements, the memory tends to change in such a way that it loses its painful intensity and simply becomes a neutral memory of an event in the past. Other associated memories may also heal at the same time. This linking of related memories can lead to a dramatic and rapid improvement in many aspects of your life.
Can anyone benefit from EMDR/BLAST Technique?
This technique can accelerate therapy by resolving the impact of your past traumas and allowing you to live more fully in the present. It is not, however, appropriate for everyone. The process is rapid, and any disturbing experiences, if they occur at all, last for a comparatively short period of time. Nevertheless, you need to be aware of, and willing to experience, the strong feelings and disturbing thoughts, which sometimes occur during sessions.
How long does a session take?
EMDR/BLAST can be brief focused treatment or part of a longer psychotherapy programme. A typical session can be for 45 to 60 minutes.
Will I remain in control and empowered?
During in treatment you will remain in control, fully alert and wide awake. This is not a form of hypnosis and you can stop the process at any time. Throughout the session, the therapist will support and facilitate your own self-healing and intervene as little as possible. Reprocessing is usually experienced as something that happens spontaneously, and new connections and insights are felt to arise quite naturally from within. As a result, most peoples’ experience of this technique is natural and very empowering.
“This technique is an innovative clinical treatment which is very quick and has successfully helped over a million individuals. The validity and reliability of this technique has been established by rigorous research. There are now many controlled studies into this technique making it the most thoroughly researched method used in the treatment of trauma and it is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) as an effective treatment for PTSD.”
To book an appointment
call 0113 2590416 or 07824 154195