A recent study published by PLOS ONE and carried out by a number of esteemed psychologists has found that Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) appeared to be the most cost effective intervention for adults with PTSD.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a severe and disabling condition that may lead to functional impairment and reduced productivity. A considerable proportion of people exposed to trauma, around 5.6%, will develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) . For staff in the Humanitarian sector and emergency first responders research has suggested PTSD is as high as 30%.
EMDR: how does it work?
Francine Shapiro, PhD, Senior Research Fellow at the Mental Research Institute, Palo Alto, California and Executive Director of the EMDR Institute, California, is the ‘originator and developer’ of EMDR. Since then, EMDR has been adapted and reworked based on the research and contributions of therapists and researchers the world over.
Initially used as a treatment with Vietnam veterans who weren’t recovering, it has since proven successful in treating various other presentations, including anxiety, phobias, addictions, depression, complicated grief, abuse and performance anxiety. The unique feature in EMDR therapy is that it uses bilateral stimulation (BLS) whilst processing the distressing memory. BLS can be conducted by following the therapist’s hand as it moves from left to right, watching a light bar, or tapping. The same can also be achieved through listening to alternating bilateral tones or holding buzzers.
The BLS alleviates negative cognitions, negative emotion and unpleasant physical sensations associated with a traumatic or distressing memory. An important concept of EMDR is the ‘Adaptive Information Processing (AIP)’ theory. This means the client begins to reformulate and update dysfunctional self-beliefs and replaces them with positive self-reflecting beliefs. Therefore, EMDR promotes our innate healing process and reformats dysfunctional information to functional, so that it becomes adaptive information processing. ‘Just as the river flows to the sea and the body heals the wound, EMDR clears the trauma and brings integration and wholeness’ (Parnell, 2007, p. 6). In discussing EMDR, Professor Gordon Turnbull states: ‘Therapists and patients were reporting that problems that had been resistant to years of psychotherapy were being resolved in a very short amount of time – sometimes within a few sessions’ (Turnbull, 2011). In my experience of working within the field of trauma for over 15 years I have never witnessed such a powerful and successful way of working with traumatised and anxious clients: ‘EMDR works effectively and helps the client return to work quickly and safely after a traumatic event’ (Dunkley & Claridge, 2012).
FD Consultants are trained in the recommended (WHO, APA and NICE) treatments of trauma and PTSD which are Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (TF-CBT). We have worked extensively with emergency first responders and aid workers globally to combat PTSD and vicarious trauma.
All associates have over 10 years’ experience in the profession, are highly skilled, and qualified to meet the requirements to work for FD Consultants. We can offer appointments and training in various languages. Associates have experience of working with the humanitarian sector, emergency first responders and mental health charities. They have worked or lived internationally, facilitate training, and have trauma expertise; making them perfectly placed to support a broad cross-section of society and organisations.
1. Koenen KC, Ratanatharathorn A, Ng L, McLaughlin KA, Bromet EJ, Stein DJ, et al. Posttraumatic stress disorder in the World Mental Health Surveys. Psychol Med. 2017; 47(13):2260–74. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0033291717000708 PMID: 28385165