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Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing, known as EMDR, is a therapy used in the treatment of traumas and distressing memories. Following a traumatic experience, people may develop symptoms. It doesn’t always happen, but it’s possible. If a person continues to suffer symptoms after a traumatic or distressing event, such as anxiety, nightmares, flashbacks or reliving the experience, there may be a chance they have posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. EMDR can be used to treat PTSD.

Although EMDR therapy was developed to treat trauma, it can equally be used to treat anxiety. Anxiety disorders, such as phobias or panic disorder, may develop in the wake of a traumatic experience. A person who became trapped in a lift may develop a phobia of lifts; a panic disorder could emerge in someone who feels deeply disturbed by a previous panic attack. Childbirth can also be extremely distressing, which can result in severe anxiety about possible future births. In such cases, your therapist may propose EMDR therapy to treat your symptoms.

In EMDR therapy, you will be asked to remember the distressing event and to recall the associated thoughts and emotions. The therapist will then invite you to simultaneously focusing on another stimulus. This dual action stimulates the brain’s natural processing system, leading to a decrease in the negative emotions associated with the memory. After treatment you will be able to remember the distressing event, without being overwhelmed by emotions. Anxiety will lessen or disapear.

For more information on EMDR in English, see the website of the EMDR International Association or the EMDR UK & Ireland.

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