EMDR – FAQ’s
Please scroll down the page for the answers to these frequently asked questions:-
1. How much does it cost?
2. What happens in EMDR?
3. How does EMDR work?
4. How effective is EMDR?
5. What qualifications are required?
6. Where can I get further information?
1. HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
With simple traumas that relate to a single traumatising event 1½ hour sessions are usually required. PTSD cases are often successfully treated with surprisingly few sessions (eg 4–10) although this cannot be guaranteed. The fee per 1½ hour session is £63.
Where the treatment is for complex trauma or for other, more generalised, psychological difficulties, the treatment is likely to last longer and it needs to be part of ongoing psychotherapy. In such cases EMDR can normally be done within 1 hour sessions. The fee per 1 hour session is £42.
2. WHAT HAPPENS IN EMDR?
EMDR is a complex method of psychotherapy which integrates many of the successful elements of a range of therapeutic approaches and combines them with eye movements or other forms of bilateral stimulation in ways which stimulate the brain’s information processing system. How does this ‘bilateral stimulation’ occur?
Before starting, the client is asked to select an initial image. This is usually an image or memory of something from the past which continues to distress or disturb the client in the present day, but it might be an image from a dream. Thereafter, the procedure which is most commonly followed is:-
Typical ‘experiencings’ might include:-
something happening in the body
Sometimes the new experiencing comes whilst the sweeping is taking place. Sometimes it comes during the pause afterwards. Whichever is the case, the client is asked to note exactly what it is that he/she has experienced, without prejudging whether or not it is relevant. Usually the client reports the experiencing to the therapist, but if the client wishes to keep it private, this is permitted.
The above procedure is repeated as often as necessary – usually over an entire session – and for as many further sessions as is necessary. From time to time certain checks are performed to monitor progress.
3. HOW DOES EMDR WORK?
There is no doubt that EMDR stimulates the rapid working through (or ‘metabolising’) of upsetting experiences or issues, but how does it work? One thing that researchers are quite clear about is that it is nothing whatever to do with hypnosis.
There are several theories. One suggests that when we do EMDR we are stimulating both sides of the brain alternately and therefore facilitating the exchange of information between the sides of the brain. The result is that the innate healing mechanisms of the psyche (mechanisms which we all share) are accelerated. This is an example of what Jung calls the ‘self-regulating function of the psyche.’
To explain how this works in the case of traumatic memories we have to take as our starting point the fact that the two sides of our brain have different functions:-
- The right brain is responsible for feelings, emotions and non-verbal experience. It is primitive and irrational.
- The left brain is more rational and more sophisticated. It contains the capacity to orientate events in time, to use language to gain distance from a source of distress, and to assign meaning to experiences.
We all experience traumas of one sort or another during our lives. Traumas can be anything along a scale from fairy mild pin-pricks at one end to massive traumas of the sort experienced by war veterans, abuse victims or the survivors of disasters at the other end. Usually the impact of fairly mild, everyday traumas is processed quite effectively by the psyche and no long-term lasting damage is done. Initially the effect of the trauma is felt in the right brain. But then it gets moved to the left brain and the necessary processing which heals the memory takes place. The heat gets taken out of the memory and it no longer has the power to damage our everyday functioning.
But if something goes wrong, then the emotional memory of the trauma gets stuck in the right brain and the necessary processing never happens. For example, a rape survivor may be haunted by flash-backs, recurring dreams and an enduring feeling that she is somehow to blame for the attack which took place on her. These would be all right brain phenomena - even though another more rational part of her, in her left brain, knows that it is actually the rapist who is the one who is entirely to blame.
The hypothesis is that one of the things that EMDR does is to facilitate the communication between the two sides of the brain so that the blockages can be released, and the brain’s normal healing processes enabled to do their work. Our rape survivor won’t forget the fact that she has been raped, but, if the treatment is successful, she will find that it no longer causes her so much distress, and no longer impairs her ability to lead a normal life.
From a Jungian perspective, whether we use EMDR as a treatment for severe trauma, or for other more generalised difficulties, what we are doing is to use the EMDR to unravel the ‘complexes’ which underlie the core of the client’s difficulties. This is no more and no less than what we do in ordinary therapy – but by using the EMDR technique the process seems to become accelerated. It is more focused and more intense. It has also been found that EMDR also works extremely well in conjunction with more conventional Jungian work on symbolic imagery (eg dream images).
The fact that the eye movements used in EMDR are similar to the rapid eye movements experienced by a dreamer in REM sleep (when many of our psychological problems are being ‘processed’) may also give another clue as to why it is that EMDR is so successful.
4. HOW EFFECTIVE IS EMDR?
There have been 14 controlled studies supporting the efficacy of EMDR, making it the most thoroughly researched method in the treatment of trauma. The most recent five studies with people suffering from a range ofevents such as rape, combat stress, bereavement, accidents, natural disasters etc have found that 84-90% of the participants no long had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) following EMDR treatment. In the UK it is now one of the treatments of choice recommended by NICE, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence.
5. WHAT QUALIFICATIONS ARE REQUIRED?
EMDR is a perfectly safe form of therapy provided that it is conducted by a fully qualified EMDR therapist. This means a therapist who has completed Levels 1 & 2 of an authorised EMDR training programme approved by the EMDR Institute.
6. WHERE CAN I GET FURTHER INFORMATION?
A great deal of information about EMDR may be found on the web and a good starting point would be to look at www.emdr.com.