This unique therapy technique was developed by psychologist Dr. Francine Shapiro in the late 1980s and now more than 35 years later has gained recognition worldwide and is recommended by the American Psychiatric Association as an effective treatment for trauma. In 1987, Shapiro made a significant observation whilst walking through a park that ignited a therapeutic modality that today helps thousands of individuals reprocess traumatic memories and live more fulfilling lives. She found that moving her eyes from side to side appeared to decrease the disturbance of negative thoughts and emotions. After this experience, she began to examine this phenomenon more systematically in her patients and developed standardised procedures to optimise the therapeutic outcomes and conducted a randomised controlled study with trauma victims.
What Is EMDR Therapy?
EMDR, short for Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing, is a psychotherapy approach designed to help individuals process and heal from trauma and distressing life experiences. During an EMDR session, the therapist guides the individual through a series of bilateral stimulation exercises, such as eye movements, taps, and/or sounds. These bilateral stimulations activate both sides of the brain, facilitating the reprocessing of traumatic memories and reducing associated emotional distress.
How Does EMDR Work?
The neuroscience behind EMDR therapy is still being studied and new information about how this technique works on the brain is emerging. In theory, it is understood that our mind is designed to heal itself naturally, just like our body. As we know, our healing mostly occurs whilst we sleep. In particular, during REM sleep, which is Rapid Eye Movement sleep, we process emotions and memories.
However, when an emotion or a memory is too overwhelming or even traumatic for us, the processing during REM sleep is just not enough and some or all of the memory remains unprocessed. It’s believed these unprocessed memories are then stored in the part of the brain that handles emotions – also known as the limbic system – instead of our brain’s cortex which stores memories in language form. Memories in our limbic system, are easily accessed and triggered, causing us to activate the emotional stress of that memory over and over again, and essentially making us re-live that memory into perpetuity. This causes us to live the same emotional patterns and we behave in a way that aligns with the negative or limiting beliefs supported by this past memory.
EMDR therapy uses eye movements, like those during REM sleep, to help release that emotional memory from our limbic system so it can be processed fully and stored in the language center of the brain, where the memory becomes a more neutral representation of the past event. After EMDR therapy, the memory is still present, but in a less distressing way that enables us to break the same repeated patterns in our day-to-day lives.
How Does EMDR Help?
The goal of EMDR is to help individuals reframe and process their traumatic experiences in a more adaptive and integrative way. By targeting specific traumatic memories or negative beliefs, EMDR aims to desensitise the emotional impact of these experiences and replace negative thoughts and emotions with more positive and adaptive ones. EMDR can often manifest results in dramatically less time than talk therapy alone.
EMDR has been widely used and proven effective in treating various mental health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorders, depression, phobias, chronic illnesses, addictions, anger management issues, sleep disturbances, and more. It can also be beneficial for individuals seeking personal growth and improved self-esteem.
Where Can I Get EMDR Therapy in Dubai?
If you’re looking for EMDR therapy in Dubai, there are several clinics and mental health professionals that offer this service. Here are a few options to consider:
1. The Lighthouse Arabia: Located in Dubai’s Jumeirah area, The Lighthouse Arabia is a well-known centre for holistic mental health and well-being. They offer EMDR therapy among their range of services provided by licensed therapists.
2. German Neuroscience Centre: Situated in Dubai Healthcare City, the German Neuroscience Centre specializes in various mental health treatments, including EMDR therapy. Their team of experienced psychologists and therapists can provide EMDR sessions tailored to individual needs.
3. American Centre for Psychiatry and Neurology: With multiple locations in Dubai, including Jumeirah and Dubai Health Care City, the American Centre for Psychiatry and Neurology offers comprehensive mental health services. They have psychiatrists and psychologists trained in EMDR therapy.
4. LifeWorks Holistic Counselling Centre: Located in JLT, LifeWorks is a well-established counseling centre offering a range of therapeutic services. They have licensed therapists who are trained in EMDR and can provide this therapy upon request.
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Is EMDR Trauma Therapy Right for Me?
Determining if you qualify for EMDR trauma therapy is typically done during an initial assessment or consultation with a trained therapist. However, there are some general factors and criteria that can help you gauge whether EMDR may be suitable for you:
1. Experience of Trauma:
EMDR is specifically designed to address trauma. If you have experienced a single traumatic event or have a history of complex trauma, such as childhood abuse or neglect, you may be a candidate for EMDR therapy.
2. Emotional Distress:
If you’re experiencing persistent emotional distress related to a traumatic event or series of events, EMDR therapy can be a helpful intervention. Symptoms like intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, or depression can be indicators that EMDR may benefit you.
3. Readiness for Trauma Work:
EMDR involves revisiting and processing traumatic memories. And so it’s necessary to be open to experiencing intense feelings and disturbing thoughts that can arise during your session. It’s important to be sufficiently prepared and have the necessary emotional stability and coping skills to engage in this work.
4. General Mental Health:
Individuals with various mental health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorders, depression, and phobias, may benefit from EMDR therapy. It’s not limited to trauma-related disorders only.
During EMDR sessions, a trained therapist will guide you to focus on specific traumatic memories while simultaneously engaging in bilateral stimulation. This process enables the brain to effectively process and integrate the traumatic memories, allowing for healing and resolution. EMDR has been extensively researched and has shown great success in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other trauma-related conditions, providing individuals with relief from their emotional burdens.
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