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Help with PTSD: EMDR therapy and the Rewind technique

Updated: May 13

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Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) and the Rewind technique are therapies originally developed to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and trauma. However, they're also used for a broad range of other problems, including anxiety, low self-esteem, phobias, anger and depression.

These therapies are effective when memories are related to a single traumatic event (such as an assault or road traffic accident), as well as to more complex or repeated trauma.

With both therapies:

  • I'll first build up a picture of your history and needs, as well as do any preparation work such as psychoeducation and teaching you grounding techniques

  • A major positive with these therapies is that you don't have to talk about the trauma in detail.

What happens in an EMDR therapy session

With EMDR, we'll work together on a list of 'targets' (traumatic or difficult memories) that relate to the problem you're currently experiencing. We'll then usually start with the most pressing target for you, such as the one that's most on your mind or pops into your head when you don't want it to.

You'll be asked to focus on a target - including thoughts, feelings, and body sensations associated with it - while rapid eye movements (or another type of 'bilateral stimulation', such as tapping) happen. Every so often, I'll check in with you to see what you're experiencing, before continuing with the processing. We'll continue until distress or disturbance associated with the memory is gone (this can take a session or sometimes a number of sessions). Once that's done, we'll work to build up a more positive belief (or 'cognition') about yourself in relation to that memory.

We'll usually do some grounding techniques to make sure you're not experiencing any distress when you end a session.

The whole process can drastically improve how you think and feel in the present; for example, anxiety, anger, depression, flashbacks, or nightmares will significantly reduce or disappear completely.

What happens in a Rewind therapy session

With Rewind, we're also working to change how you think and feel about a difficult memory or series of memories.

Although it may initially seem a bit strange, and we'll usually practise a few times first, you'll learn how visualise the memory as a film on a TV or movie screen. I'll help you to, in your mind, visualise watching the film played on the screen, before you then (very quickly) experience reliving the memory backwards. This rapid, tried and tested technique 'neutralises' the high emotional charge (for example, flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety or unpleasant body sensations) associated with the memory.

Despite Rewind being less well-known than EMDR or counselling, I've seen my clients experience big positive changes very quickly. Another advantage of Rewind is that very little preparation is needed in advance.

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