EMDR therapist London – What is EMDR?

admin March 3, 2023
Updated 2023/03/03 at 6:07 PM
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EMDR is an abbreviation for the English expression  Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing  and is a psychotherapeutic treatment method used to relieve mental stress. It is a type of treatment that has proven to be very effective against, among other things post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD for short, and other traumas. EMDR is also used in the treatment of anxiety and in some exceptional cases for depression. If you are looking for the emdr therapist in London then visit City Psychological Services. 

When undergoing therapy sessions using EMDR methods, you will relive experiences that were traumatic with the guidance of a therapist. During the treatment, the therapist will direct the patient’s eye movements to shift his attention from the memory of the trauma. The theory behind this technique is that the more you process and evoke the memories, the easier it will be in the long run to counteract their emotional effects. One could say that the therapist helps the patient to build up psychological defenses against memory-induced elicitations of unwanted emotions.

Usually, it is extremely emotionally demanding for a person to relive their traumas, but by diverting the patient’s attention, the strong psychological response that the memories would otherwise have caused can be reduced. You thus trick the patient’s brain into remembering and processing the memories by diverting part of the patient’s consciousness so that the experience is not so emotionally demanding. In this way, the patient can put more effort into processing the memories than processing the emotions that retrieval of the memories causes.

What are the benefits of EMDR?

The most common form of treatment for, for example, children and young people who suffer from PTSD is to have regular support calls or carry out drug treatment. A combination of these two agents is also common. Among the drugs used are antidepressants, anxiolytics such as benzodiazepines and less obvious sleep aids. Support calls take place either in groups or individually depending on the patient’s individual needs. EMDR is common but not as common as the methods listed above.

According to recent research, it appears that various forms of psychotherapy work much better than drug treatment and other treatment strategies such as support conversations. Psychotherapies such as EMDR and behavioral therapy are found to be roughly equivalent in effectiveness, and give the patient better results than drugs. According to researchers, this provides the basis for a combination treatment of drugs and psychotherapy. The advantage that EMDR has in comparison to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is that the former method requires fewer treatment sessions in cases where the patient’s trauma is relatively limited.

Treatments that use drugs must also deal with potential side effects of the drugs. If the patient is also a teenager or a child, the drugs have effects that can damage their development. Many therefore recommend psychotherapy exclusively in cases of less severe PTSD. According to many doctors, medicines should only be seen as a tool to be used in desperate situations.

How does EMDR work?

The purpose of EMDR is to allow people to process their traumas themselves by guiding them through various treatment phases. The aim of the treatment is to make the patient recognize the feelings connected to the trauma and to put the traumatic event in a context that leads to a reduction of stressful emotions. Our best emdr therapist in London works with the individual to identify problems. 

However, EMDR is not only limited to people suffering from PTSD, it can also be used by people who simply suffer from severe anxiety and panic attacks. In terms of research, there is so far no evidence that EMDR is effective against psychological ailments other than PTSD, the evidence underlying the use of EMDR against, for example, anxiety and depression is purely anecdotal.

The EMDR method

The treatment is divided into 8 different phases, which means that you need to participate in a total of around 12 rounds. The structure of the treatment can be changed depending on individual circumstances and conditions. The development of a psychological treatment strategy is continuously supported by conversations with the patient during the course of the treatment. This ensures that events in the patient’s private life, personal conditions and the patient’s own will interact well with the treatment.

Phase 1: Patient history and treatment planning

The responsible therapist will first review the patient’s history and where he is judged to be in the treatment process. This phase is based on individual conversations with the patient, where specific details of the trauma are recorded and then integrated into the treatment phases. Here, the patient must explain his trauma and, together with the therapist, identify surrounding feelings and memories. This phase can be informed by previously performed psychological treatment.

Phase 2: Preparation

Here, the therapist helps the patient find methods to deal with the psychological stress that PTSD causes. Here, the methods used vary quite a lot from person to person, but in general stress management techniques such as mindfulness and guided breathing techniques are used.

Phase 3: Memory identification

During this phase, the therapist will identify specific memories that cause negative psychological responses. These memories will be used in the rest of the treatment as a point of concentration for the patient. By disarming the emotional strength of these memories, one hopes to also be able to disarm to some extent the PTSD or trauma in the future. Focus will also be placed on having the patient explain the feelings associated with each specific memory.

Phase 4–7: Treatment

It is in these phases that most of the work takes place. Here, the therapist will begin using specific EMDR techniques to process the memories that were identified in the previous step. Here, the patient is asked to focus on negative thoughts, memories or images that trigger the negative feelings that underlie the problem.

The patient is then asked to perform specific eye movements. This so-called “diversion factor” can also take other forms in certain individual cases. It can, for example, consist of bilateral stimulation or other movements. However, it is most common to use a wide combination of movements.

After the bilateral stimulation, the emdr therapist in London will ask the patient to empty his mind and try to keep his head empty of thoughts. When the therapist feels that the patient has fallen into a sufficiently deep meditative state, the patient is then asked to identify thoughts and feelings that bubble up. These thoughts and feelings are communicated to the therapist who either asks the patient to stay with a particular thought or feeling, or to move on. Over time, this should cause traumatic memories to fade.

Phase 8: Evaluation

After the bilateral stimulation, the patient will be asked to self-evaluate his progress based on the sessions he has undergone. The therapist will do the same thing and the results will be compared. Either another round of treatments is started, or the treatment is ended. This depends entirely on the patient’s results.

How much does EMDR treatment cost?

The cost varies depending on whether you seek care privately or via the public healthcare system. Private EMDR treatment usually costs around SEK 1,000 per session. If you seek psychological care through the general healthcare system, you may not receive EMDR, as it is entirely up to the healthcare system to assess which treatment method is suitable for your particular condition. Of course, they take the patient’s personal preferences into account, but if you are absolutely sure that it is EMDR that you need and want, you can simply apply to a private clinic on your own. Then make sure that the private therapist is a licensed healthcare professional such as a psychotherapist, psychologist or psychiatrist.

Why does EMDR work?

EMDR began to be used when soldiers returned from Vietnam. It quickly proved to have a strong effect in alleviating war-related PTSD, but also the PTSD that, for example, women who have been exposed to sexual violence sometimes experience. Today, EMDR is used to treat many different types of trauma and in recent years has also received scientific support for its effectiveness. EMDR uses, among other things, mindfulness and observation of one’s own mind in connection with conversations with a therapist to come to terms with traumatic experiences. 

Answering exactly why this works is not easy and most likely requires more thorough scientific understanding of how the brain actually works. If one views trauma as dysfunctional memories that cause unwanted emotional reactions, it is not surprising that thorough self-examination directed at these memories and feelings using rational thinking eases the problem.

We humans rarely examine our own feelings from a focused and objective perspective, but with the help of EMDR you can do just that. Since the method of focusing on and questioning one’s feelings is so above for many, being guided by a therapist improves the outcome. It is common for people to continue using EMDR methods even after the treatment. You can look at EMDR as a bit of a skill, where the therapist’s goal is to teach the patient how to proceed on their own.

EMDR for children

EMDR has proven to be a very effective method for treating children suffering from PTSD. Children and young people are particularly affected by trauma, which means that much of the research into EMDR is focused on children and young people in particular. PTSD is a kind of inability to deal with a traumatic event in a natural way, which is far more common in children because they don’t have the same life experience that would have otherwise protected them against it. Therefore, even relatively mundane experiences can lead to lasting trauma for children and those who react by becoming overwhelmed and shocked are at greater risk of inducing PTSD or anxiety problems.

With guided therapy, even children can successfully disarm these traumas at an early stage, improving their future prospects when it comes to mental health. The earlier the trauma is dealt with, the less the risk of the anxiety or PTSD worsening over time.

Training in EMDR

In Sweden, there are some basic courses you have to complete to become a certified EMDR therapist. After that, you can choose specializations for, for example, children. In order to be able to take the EMDR courses, you must be a trained psychologist, psychotherapist or psychiatrist with basic psychotherapy training. The certificate is issued in accordance with the guidelines of the organization EMDR Sweden and EMDR Europe. The basic education itself consists of two sub-courses of a total of eight days.

EMDR for anxiety and other psychological problems

EMDR is used primarily in the treatment of PTSD, but also in many cases of anxiety. Because the technique that EMDR is based on is so general and is really only about recognizing emotions and gaining an understanding of the memories that cause negative emotions, it is a relatively general technique that is considered by many to be applicable in the treatment of other psychological ailments such as for example depression, anxiety or OCD.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is already widely used to treat depression and anxiety, among other things, and since EMDR and CBT have many overlapping methods, it is not a stretch to conclude that both methods have benefits that overlap in many areas. Research around EMDR has so far been relatively limited to PTSD, but a scientific consensus is being built regarding the use of the method for other psychological problems as well. In the future, we will most likely see a more mixed use of both CBT and EMDR in care.

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