For some people, when something traumatic happens to them, the memory of this traumatic experience comes crashing back into their mind, forcing them to relive the event with the same intensity. These experiences usually come in the forms of flashbacks or nightmares and are thought to occur because the mind was too occupied with surviving during the event to process what was going on. This means that the sights, sounds, thoughts, and feelings of and surrounding this traumatic event are stored in the brain in their rawest form, ready to be accessed when something triggers a recollection of the original event.
While it, unfortunately, isn’t possible to erase traumatic memories, the process of eye movement desensitisation reprocessing (EMDR) can alter the way these traumatic memories are stored in the brain – making them easier to manage.
EMDR is a form of psychotherapy developed in the 1980s, which is now increasingly being recommended for issues other than trauma, including depression, phobias and fears, anxiety, and low self-esteem.
The aims of EMDR therapy include:
- Reducing re-experiencing trauma memories
- Helping you to feel more able to cope with and manage traumatic memories, without the need to avoid potential triggers
- Helping you to feel more able to engage in and enjoy pleasurable activities and relationships
- Reducing feelings of stress, anxiety, irritation, and hypervigilance
- Reducing feelings of isolation, hopelessness, and depression
- Boosting self-confidence and self-esteem.
EMDR therapy aims to help you to properly process traumatic memories, reducing the impact and power that they have, and helping you to develop healthy coping mechanisms. EMDR involves recalling distressing evens while receiving ‘bilateral sensory input’, including side to side eye movements, hand tapping, and auditory tones.