A number of our therapists in Rotherham IAPT are qualified to deliver eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR). In our service, this treatment is often used to help people who experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) .
EMDR has a good evidence base for treating PTSD and can be used as an alternative to cognitive behavioural therapy according to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) who provide independent, evidence-based guidance for the NHS.
Sometimes when we experience a traumatic event we start to feel overloaded and this can result in memories of the event not being processed in the usual way, and can leave us with difficult images emotions, thoughts or physical sensations to manage. The unprocessed memories and associated symptoms can be re-experienced, causing levels of distress similar to those experienced at the time of the traumatic event.
Re-experiencing is often triggered by internal experiences for example thoughts, emotions or bodily sensations; or external experiences for example certain sounds, images, smells or places. EMDR aims to alter the way the memory is stored in the brain, to gradually reduce its intensity and to decrease associated problematic symptoms.
Together, you and your therapist will seek to target the source of your distress by activating the two sides of your brain, the left and right hemispheres, using bilateral stimulation. This can be achieved by stimulating eye movement which can be achieved by your therapist moving their hand backward and forward across your field of vision, or through technology using a lightbar that produces animated light sequencing.
Tactile and auditory stimulation is also an option and following a comprehensive assessment your therapist will discuss this with you further to agree the best option for you.
At Rotherham IAPT, EMDR sessions can sometimes be slightly longer than typical therapy sessions and may on occasion last up to 90 minutes. The number of sessions needed, will depend on the specific person and an agreed length of treatment will be planned, often around 12 sessions.