Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing

Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a new therapy that is producing some good results for those that are experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). There is less talking involved than in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT).

It’s more of a physical treatment, but only for your eyes. You are asked to follow the therapists fingers as they move them side to side in various directions.

When you start you are asked to visualise a scene that’s affecting you and think about how it makes you feel. You remember your image, follow the fingers with nothing but eye movements and then report to the therapist anything you can notice.

Thoughts, physical sensations, pain or even smells.

Anything you have become aware of you tell them.

It’s been described as having one foot in the past and one in the present. Any lingering trauma will surface and make itself known.  It works on the theory that when someone has suffered a trauma, the events may not be processed by the brain properly. This is especially likely if you have had a cardiac arrest and there was no brain activity happening for a period of time. When a person dies their consciousness ceases instantly but the body shuts down more slowly.

Following fingers with your eyes creates an eye movement called bilateral stimulation. It is the same rapid eye movement that your eyes make when you are asleep in the REM processing stage. Therefore the movement is the link to making your memory process properly.

When the negative memory or thought channel is processed to the point the memory of it no longer hurts you in any way then you can safely say it’s processed and finished. Then you move on with any other images that are causing trouble to you in the same way.

Personal Experience

One of our members wrote about their own experience of EMDR and you can read part 1 here and part 2 here.

Further Reading

EMDR for Survivors of Life-Threatening Cardiac Events: Results of a Pilot Study

Efficacy of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) on depression in patients with Myocardial Infarction (MI) in a 12-month follow up