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4. EMDR Psychotherapy

What is it and how does it work?

We are all a function of our natural god given tendencies modified by our life experiences i.e. we are born with a certain nature and abilities, which are modified by what energies we have taken on from,  and lost due to,  others and circumstances in our lives, especially childhood.

EMDR is a technique that was developed by a psychologist for use by psychologists (and other professional health workers) in the release of negative memory and restructuring of beliefs about self.  It is particularly advocated for releasing memory of traumatic events. But then, what is trauma?  Trauma is certainly, but need not only be, the more severe kind such as hijackings, rape, death, and divorce. (Post traumatic stress disorder (PSTD) being characterized by anxiety, anger, flashbacks and bad dreams).

But there are individuals who do not experience the more acute kinds of trauma, but rather, get traumatized by more apparently minor conditions such as not having sufficient nurturance, approval or not achieving as much as expected by parents. These can have profound effects on an individual; leading to a commonly held belief of “I am not good enough”, for example. Such beliefs are the underpinning of poor self esteem and are the determining factors for the choices we make in life.

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a methodology that desensitizes and reprocesses dysfunctional emotions, beliefs and sensations (using bilateral stimulation of the brain) so that the event loses its emotional charge and can no longer trigger ones’ responses. It is also used to enhance future adaptive behaviour and mental health.

How does it work? When a disturbing event occurs, it can get locked in the brain with the original picture, sounds, thoughts, feelings and body sensations. It stays there, forever influencing one subconsciously, and triggering current day experiences, and concerns about the future, unless it is properly processed and released.

The EMDR therapist will interview the client to see what the triggering issues are (past, present or future). The client sits in front of the therapist for processing. During the reprocessing, the client attends momentarily to focusing on the selected trigger whilst simultaneously attending to a stimulus (a movement, tap or sound). This stimulus activates the brain to start processing the information. During this time, clients generally experience the emergence of new memory, insight, changes in old memory and new understanding. As this occurs, negative feelings associated with the trauma are released, and more positive and productive beliefs are developed.

Lesley ChornFor further information see the EMDR website at:

Lesley Chorn is a Registered Counselling Psychologist who works primarily with EMDR. See advert for details or or call: 021 762 8909

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