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EMDR Therapy

Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy

Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) is a form of psychotherapy that has gained widespread recognition for its effectiveness in treating various mental health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and addiction. EMDR therapy is recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the American Psychiatric and Psychological associations, and in the UK by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

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What is EMDR therapy?

EMDR therapy is a structured approach to psychotherapy that integrates elements of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), mindfulness, and bilateral stimulation to help individuals process distressing memories and experiences.
Unlike traditional talk therapy, which primarily focuses on verbal processing, EMDR incorporates bilateral stimulation, such as side-to-side eye movements, hand tapping, or auditory tones, to facilitate the reprocessing of traumatic memories.
If an individual suffers a shocking or harrowing event it can make them feel stunned and emotionally paralysed, with their brain unable to completely process the situation. This can mean they are stuck with a powerful, disturbing memory that they can’t move on from, sometimes experiencing flashbacks or nightmares. Any later recall of the event is with the full impact of when it occurred, meaning they repeatedly relive all the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings that went with it.

EMDR aims to help the brain process the memory properly, so it is no longer so extreme. By asking the person to recall the event whilst engaging in a form of bilateral stimulation; moving their eyes side to side or listening to sounds in alternate ears; it seems to unstick the memory and enable the individual to process it normally.

How does EMDR work?

Other forms of therapy work on adjusting the emotions and behaviours caused by painful experiences, EMDR targets the specific memory to alter the way it is stored in the brain.

EMDR consists of eight phases; history, preparation, assessment, desensitisation, installation, body scan, closure, and evaluation; and happens over a succession of 60-90-minute sessions.

These steps typically include:

1. History: To start with the therapist will take a complete history and talk about any trauma that the individual has suffered, and any painful or harrowing experiences.

2. Preparation: Before delving into the trauma, the therapist helps the individual develop coping skills and relaxation techniques to manage distressing emotions that may arise during the session.

3. Assessment: The therapist works with the individual to identify specific traumatic memories or distressing experiences that are contributing to their symptoms, assessing which memories to target.

4. Desensitisation: The individual is asked to focus on a traumatic memory while simultaneously engaging in bilateral stimulation, such as following the therapist’s hand movements with their eyes. This process helps to desensitise the individual to the distressing memory and allows for the processing of associated thoughts and emotions.

5 Installation: Positive beliefs and adaptive coping mechanisms are reinforced to replace negative beliefs and feelings associated with the traumatic memory.

6. Body scan: The therapist guides the individual through a body scan to identify any remaining tension or distress in the body related to the traumatic memory.

7. Closure: The session is closed with relaxation techniques to ensure the individual feels grounded and safe before leaving.

8. Evaluation: In the final sessions, the therapist will discuss with the individual their progress and how they are feeling, adjusting their future goals and expectations for therapy. They will discuss the memories that have already been processed to ensure they don’t elicit any distress and discuss how future scenarios might be handled.

What is EMDR used to treat?

EMDR was developed by psychologist Francine Shapiro, in the late 1980’s, as a therapy method for sufferers of trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder. In more recent years it has been proved successful in the treatment of chronic pain, and those struggling with addiction and other mental health conditions.

After extensive research EMDR therapy is recognised as an effective treatment for a wide range of mental health conditions, including:

• Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): EMDR is considered one of the most effective treatments for PTSD, helping individuals process traumatic memories and reduce symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, and hypervigilance.

• Anxiety disorders: EMDR can be used to treat various anxiety disorders, including phobias, panic disorder, and generalised anxiety disorder, by addressing underlying traumatic experiences that contribute to anxiety symptoms.

• Depression: EMDR therapy can help individuals with depression by targeting negative beliefs and memories that contribute to feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness.

• Addiction: Trauma is often linked to the development and maintenance of addiction. EMDR therapy can help individuals address underlying trauma and develop healthier coping mechanisms, reducing the risk of relapse.

• Other mental health conditions: EMDR has also been used successfully to treat conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), eating disorders, and dissociative disorders.

Whilst EMDR therapy is considered safe, it can lead to heightened awareness following a session, which can cause some unsteadiness and intensely vivid dreams. It is essential for sessions to be facilitated by properly qualified and licensed practitioners. They can help the individual properly manage any triggers that are unlocked during sessions and correctly process the emotions and feelings that are exposed.

Here at Ibiza Calm, we use EMDR alongside other treatments including individual and group therapy, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), and equine-facilitated therapy to help our clients struggling with addiction, compulsive disorders, and mental health issues such as trauma, anxiety, and depression.

Overseeing all the therapeutic care at the rehabilitation clinic is our Medical Director, Dr Manuel Rodriguez. He is qualified in several models of psychotherapy including relational psychoanalysis, strategic therapy, psychodrama and EMDR.

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Admission Process


1 —-Phone call

A family member or a patient calls, we will explain the time frame, suitability, our costs and answer any other questions.

2 —-Admission Assessment

An initial telephone assessment with the client.

3 —-Set a date

We give each client a date for admission and everyone is greeted by our clinical team on arrival.

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