Throughout our lives we have many different experiences or we can be faced with traumatic events which can lead us to become highly anxious, depressed or to develop a variety of symptoms some of which may be associated with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). We are individuals and so may develop different ways of dealing with psychological distress. In some cases people engage in unhelpful behaviours that can be counter-productive and which in turn can lead them to become even more depressed or to experience increased levels of anxiety. Anxiety can take many forms, all of which can be debilitating.
Traumatic events can occur at any time and be the result of early life experiences, an accident or as a result of the work that people carry out on a daily basis. Some of the symptoms of trauma such as flashbacks, hyper-vigilance, hyper-arousal, nightmares and avoidance of certain situations carry with them increased anxiety which can have far-reaching consequences in daily life. A number of the people who have sought counselling and with whom I have worked, have come as the result of being the victim of sexual abuse, bullying, assaults and/or being in abusive relationships. Others have experienced traumatic events as a result of an accident, a sudden death or as a consequence of their employment. People who work in the following services: police, ambulance, fire or the military may be exposed repeatedly to traumatic events as part of their daily working life which can make them more vulnerable to low mood and anxiety. Whilst initially these experiences may have a limited impact, over time psychological distress can build up leading to increased difficulties.
EMDR - Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing - is a particularly effective therapy in helping to manage high levels of emotional distress that can be impacting on daily life. EMDR has been approved by NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) for working with people who are experiencing symptoms of post traumatic stress such as flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, hyper-vigilance and hyper-arousal. When emotional problems stem from earlier memories then EMDR has been found to be useful in working with depression and anxiety.
EMDR was originally developed by Francine Shapiro in the late 1980s in the USA. Whilst we are not certain how this works we believe that the process of bilateral stimulation (eye movements or taps) is similar to the process that occurs during the period of sleep when rapid eye movement takes place. It is at this stage that daily events are processed and integrated into the memory. When traumatic events take place the ability of the brain to process and make sense of the memory can be affected; the memory can be frozen so that whenever a similar emotion, sensation or situation arises it is as though you are back at the point when the trauma took place. The bilateral stimulation used in EMDR facilitates the processing of the memory as in REM and brings adaptive information 'on-line' so that we are able to make sense of what happened and to reduce the emotional intensity of traumatic memories.
On completing EMDR therapy one client observed "EMDR was rewarding .... I had the answers within myself and was just tapping into this which gives me confidence for the future". E.M. March 2022.
Further information about this therapy can be obtained from: www.emdrassociation.org.uk Click here
CBT - Cognitive Behavioural Therapy - is a practical approach to challenge unhelpful thoughts and behaviour, it too has been approved by NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) for working with all types of anxiety and depression. There is a good body of evidence-based research which supports this effective short-term intervention.
The theory behind CBT is that negative thoughts influence our feelings and behaviour so that by challenging the way that we think about things, we can change our feelings and thereby our behaviour.
After nearly twenty years of anxiety, following therapy, D.L. described treatment as a "miracle" having now got their life back, March 2022.
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