Short-term therapy for trauma and stressful events

EMDR therapy

Certain events can have a profound impact on people’s lives. These experiences can lead to psychological complaints that do not pass by themselves. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) is a therapy for people who continue to suffer the consequences of a shocking or offensive experience. These can be memories of the unpleasant event that continue to impose itself, including frightening images and nightmares. Other complaints that often occur are frightening and avoidance reactions.
EMDR is effective for post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) and other trauma-related anxiety complaints, but also for various other psychological complaints (fear of failure, tension, gloominess and burn-out) if these have arisen as a result of unpleasant experiences.

EMDR consists of a number of actions that process the memories of these experiences. The therapist will ask you to think back to the event, including the accompanying images, thoughts and feelings, and then the process will be started. The client takes the unpleasant memory into consideration. Then the therapist makes horizontal movements with her fingers for about 20 seconds. The client follows these movements with his eyes. Then the client takes a quiet breath and reports what he experiences. Then the therapist lets the client make eye movements again. In this way the client processes all kinds of aspects of the memory. The sets will gradually lead to the memory losing its strength and emotional charge. So it becomes easier and easier to think back to the original event.

EMDR is a short-term form of therapy. How many sessions are needed to achieve a desired effect, however, differs per person and per situation. EMDR is effective from about the sixth year of life.

Client experiences with EMDR

Dirk, 62 years old

After a conflict in my family I couldn’t get away from fighting and worrying, which was especially true when I was alone. It was very disappointing that my experience with previous therapy, body work and meditation, did not help me now. After a few months I had serious stress complaints and initially I didn’t get much further than others blaming me for it. The family doctor referred me to a psychologist. He was speaking more than I was and he showered me with all kinds of advice. It didn’t help. At the end of 2015 I couldn’t remember and saw myself at home incapacitated for work. But it didn’t come to that.

By coincidence I was in the building of neuroCare Netherlands where I followed a philosophy course. On an information board I read about EMDR that I knew from an NLP training course: in just two short sessions my fear of heights had diminished enormously. Permanently.

The intake was very simple and I followed the EMDR sessions with a therapist from neuroCare Netherlands. In the meantime I was stiff with stress, pain in my neck and shoulders and a complicated tangle of frustrations and emotions. In the therapy everything was finished step by step. In advance we did a visualization with a ‘safe place’, a reminder of a fine situation that I experience as very safe. Every session, no matter how painful or disruptive, ended with that image. In the sessions the therapist decided to guide my process. She asked me questions, invited me to recall painful situations and with the EMDR technique I was intensely confronted with them for a few minutes. Then relax and talk about it for a while.

By repeating this several times the emotion changed. Sometimes it was very intense and sometimes the stress was suddenly over. The very nice thing was that the therapist hardly interfered with my problems. She encouraged me to face them and relax in them. The therapist was supportive in everything and if I couldn’t make sense of it myself, she would make me feel understood. Because of the EMDR technique and my own associations, the insight came naturally and slowly became clear to me how I organised my frustration myself by provoking rejections. A pattern that didn’t seem strange to me at all and originates from my childhood. I can now more easily allow those memories as well. I remember but it doesn’t bother me anymore.

After a while I was able to do it myself: if I now become entangled in a frustration, I stop and think about it, relax and let it slip away from me. It is as if I give myself permission to let it go.

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