What is EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation & Reprocessing)?
Eye Movement Desensitisation & Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychological treatment method that was developed by an American clinical psychologist, Dr Francine Shapiro, in the 1980s.
EMDR is a way to process ‘stuck’ Traumatic memories that impact on you today. This could be having intense emotional reactions, embodied feelings, phobias, addictions or PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) symptoms. It may feel like you are re-experiencing the event in the moment. These could be memories known or unknown to you.
EMDR can help to start & support the natural processing of this trauma memory by using bi-lateral stimulation (generally eye movements), similar to that experienced naturally during the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage of the sleep cycle.
EMDR can be used to treat anxiety, panic attacks, phobias, addiction and low self esteem. More information can be found at EMDR UK & Ireland
What will happen during an EMDR the session?
During the initial session we will discuss your requirements, how we may work together and whether EMDR may be appropriate to use as a part of your counselling. If we both feel EMDR is appropriate then the first few sessions will be gathering a detailed history from you and preparing you for processing unprocessed memories.
Sessions will be either 50 mins or up to 1hr 30mins (longer sessions can be useful when processing memories).
When I met Del I was completely broken and in a very dark place. My head was full of chaos, I was burning myself, cutting myself, picking all the skin off the bottom of my feet, drinking and popping painkillers to try and numb the noise.
As a police officer with 23 years service I was also very cynical and sceptical of anything to do with mental ill-health. I’d had it drilled into me that as police officers we should be tough, strong, invincible and able to deal with whatever the job or life throws at us.
Admitting you needed help or were struggling was like admitting you’d failed, you were a bad cop and weak. Although the culture in modern day policing has improved a lot, sadly the stigma is very much still there.
Unfortunately due to this stigma I allowed my cup to overflow and the job finally broke me.
My wife found Del through a charity called Police Care UK. Within a couple of weeks of contacting them they had set up and funded counselling sessions including a technique called EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) with him. I’d never seen a counsellor before and wasn’t expecting much to be honest. I thought it was all bean baggy nonsense and had absolutely no faith in him or his dark arts.
Over a very short space of time Del was able to gain my trust, make me feel safe, secure and understand what had gone wrong for me both physically and psychologically. As detective I like to deal in tangible evidence. As you can’t see mental ill-health like you can a bone sticking out of your leg I needed to know why I was feeling and behaving the way I was. Del explained how our brains work and deal (or not) with the trauma that we witness. He even sent me articles and diagrams which I found fascinating and made me realise I wasn’t weak or worthless or bad at my job, I just hadn’t been able to process certain things at the right time, and they were now coming back to haunt me.
Del gave me some coping mechanisms to use whilst we slowly and patiently worked together to process several horrific memories of traumatic incidents via the medium of EDMR. I still use these practical tips today.
When I first started EMDR with Del I thought to myself “If my workmates could see me now tapping myself on the shoulders they would wet themselves laughing” How on earth could this nonsense help me?!!
However once I read up on it and decided to buy into it, hell I had nothing to lose, I discovered it to be completely amazing. I could literally feel the event lifting up out of my body leaving me with a feeling of complete euphoria and calmness. At first, I was so suspicious and would ask Del, “what did you just do to me?”
I worked with Del over the course of 6 months and I can honestly say he has changed my life. I was diagnosed with CPTSD. I was afraid to leave my house, I wasn’t sleeping, I was self harming and I could find no joy in anything.
With Del’s unwavering support, professionalism, knowledge, patience and at times good humour we have been on an amazing journey together at the end of which I am not “back to my old self” I’m better than that, I’m my New Improved Self with superhero powers that Del was able to unlock from inside of me.