What is EMDR therapy?
EMDR therapy is an effective psychotherapeutic treatment method for resolving the consequences of a traumatic experience. EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.
Any event that has a lasting negative effect on someone’s life is called ’traumatic’ in psychology. This applies to shocking recent events, but also to events in the distant past.
This treatment helps to fully process one or more traumatic experiences. After that, no more fears or bad feelings arise with the memory of the event.
For whom and for what can EMDR be used?
A traumatic event may not have been processed completely in the brain. As a result, the event, consciously or unconsciously, has a lasting influence on one’s well-being. Or it may hinder day to day functioning. There may be feelings of fear, insecurity, shame, guilt, powerlessness or inadequacy.
Below are a number of complaints and experiences that are successfully treated with EMDR:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) including flashbacks, intense startle reactions, nightmares, concentration problems and avoidance of situations
- Traumatic experiences or violent events
- Fears and phobias that can be traced back to a specific event
- Panic attacks
- Harassment or violence at work
- Shocking medical experiences
- Burglary or robbery experiences
- Punishment or abuse in childhood
- Divorce of parents
- Being bullied or embarrassed
- Negative self image or damaged self-confidence
- Work and school-related events, including burnout as a result
Counseling and EMDR therapy
For some people, EMDR treatment may be the primary reason for seeking help. Then, there is a clear traumatic event and the desire to process it. In addition, EMDR can be used as an additional tool in the counseling process. For example, if it is not immediately clear what the underlying unpleasant event has been that has resulted in a negative self-image or in certain compulsive behavior. It may also become gradually apparent, in the course of sessions, that certain fears or patterns are the result of shocking events in the distant past.
How does it work?
In a first session we will look at all complaints and disturbances that are experienced in daily life. And we will identify the major initiating event(s). This will subsequently answer the question whether or not EMDR is the proper treatment for the complaints. We will also check whether there is sufficient bearing capacity to undergo the treatment. Sometimes it may turn out that extra support is needed first, before we can start with EMDR treatment. Of course, the workings of EMDR will also be clearly explained in this session.
The actual EMDR process will start in the following session. Then, the drastic event, containing the most unpleasant moment, is brought to the forefront again. At the same time, the information and processing system in the brain will be stimulated by alternating eye movements or sound through headphones.
The EMDR procedure brings up a, seemingly random, series of thoughts, images and feelings. These can be accompanied by physical reactions. In the course of the treatment session the memory will gradually lose its power and emotional charge. All this happens in a quiet and safe environment.
The entire session usually takes thirty to ninety minutes. However, it is impossible to say in advance how long a session will last.
How stressful is EMDR therapy?
The advantage of EMDR is that extensive talking sessions are not necessary. After the relevant experience has been brought forward, the brain will continue to do its job on its own. EMDR is a controlled step-by-step process of discharge. As a result, it will not be perceived as threatening or overwhelming.
After a session, the effects can continue to work for a while. In some cases, you may feel that you have lost control. New images or feelings may also emerge. As a rule, this does not last longer than three days. And it is always possible to contact me about this, so that an additional relaxation exercise can be done if necessary.
Does EMDR work?
There are now dozens of solid scientific studies that demonstrate the effectiveness and safety of this treatment. This makes EMDR currently the most evaluated treatment method in the field of trauma processing
How many sessions are needed?
The number of sessions of an EMDR trajectory depends on the complexity of the trauma and the number of shocking events. For most people with a single trauma, three sessions will be sufficient: In the first session, the events and complaints will be mapped out as fully as possible. The actual treatment takes place in the second session. A third session is necessary to neutralize any residual charge.
It is important to know that once the whole process is underway, the sessions follow each other every two weeks.
Certification and Quality Requirements for EMDR therapy
After a thorough basic training (BivT) and additional supervision courses (trajectory of 1,5 years), I am a fully certified EMDR therapist. In addition, I can draw on my knowledge and experience in clinical practice as a medical doctor.
I am registered with the Cooperating EMDR Therapists Netherlands.
The past affects the present, even without our being aware of it
founder of EMDR