Explaining eye movement desensitization and reprocessing

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy treatment used to help a variety of mental health conditions including traumaaddiction and anxiety as well as other emotional conditions.

Nick Kypriotis, Therapist at Priory Hospital Roehampton discusses the treatment and how it can help to manage distressing memories and reduce cravings in addictions:

What is EMDR?

EMDR allows a person to process an emotional experience that they have had difficulty talking about. Experience has shown that following EMDR treatment the person can develop the ability to talk about their trauma more freely, and in a way that may have proved difficult in the past.

Most importantly EMDR can remove the stress surrounding the traumatic event, allowing a traumatic and emotionally difficult memory to heal and, in time, to repair.

Who benefits from EMDR?

If your patient is struggling with post traumatic stress disorder, addictions, depression or anxiety, EMDR could be the right treatment to help them process an emotional or traumatic experience which has led to their condition.

How does it work?

During EMDR therapy, bilateral stimulation (right/left eye movement), tactile stimulation (touch) or sound is used to repeatedly activate the opposite sides of the brain, releasing emotional experiences that are "trapped" in the nervous system.

This helps the neurophysiological system to free itself of ‘blockages’, allowing it to reconnect. It is one of the most effective methods for healing post traumatic stress disorders, as seen within several scientific research studies.

EMDR and addictions

More recently, EMDR has been used within addiction treatment.

Addiction to a substance or behaviour is often the result of many different factors, including the repression of traumatic memories as well as the feelings linked to the memories. EMDR along with addiction protocol treatment, helps the person become able to tolerate and manage distressing memories or feelings.

This then helps to reduce cravings and triggers by numbing the negative emotions associated with the addictive behaviour, and in turn enables the reprocessing of those memories into something more positive.

The importance of addressing negative emotions

Traumatic memories can cause both psychological and physiological repercussions. The physical and mental effects of memories can be extreme and may include depression, eating disorders and self-destructive behaviours.

Negative experiences and feelings, ranging from shame, guilt, resentment, anxiety and depression to a traumatic event can have a vast impact on a person’s life. These feelings and experiences can cause a person to feel distressed and uncomfortable and may have an overall impact in how they function in their day to day life.

Priory offers a nationwide network of private mental health and addiction treatment centres, all of which can be accessed through GP referral. To make a referral call: 0800 090 1354 or click here to use our secure form: click here