The evening started with our AGM – and a room full of eager participants to learn more about EMDR.
EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing, developed by Francine Shapiro in 1987. When walking through a park she found herself moving her eyes from side to side whilst observing nature – she soon realised she was feeling hugely better – the work progressed and developed from there.
Del’s approach to his work and clients, is one of care, compassion and reaching the individual where they are at. Crucial to the messages Del conveyed during the evening, was his work with EMDR is not a ‘done to’ process. There is relationship building, choice of involvement by the client at every stage of the sessions and EMDR work.
Psychoeducation is a key part of the work that Del does with his clients from the moment they step into the room. Learning how the brain works, from birth through to adulthood, mammalian (primal) brain through the development of the frontal cortex. Similarly Del is watching out for how the client learns and communicates.
One of the huge advantages of EMDR is it isn’t a talk therapy, so where clients struggle to discuss feelings, the work can be focussed on the body and sensations associated with memories. As EMDR work is primarily focussed on helping the body work through trauma, not having to recount every detail is really key so as not to retraumatise the client.
Del is very prescriptive when it comes to the process of EMDR and works closely with an 8 stage model. The timing of when and how this will be offered will depend on many things.
- How many sessions a client is being supported to have (eg through employment, if short the work needs to happen faster)
- Clients ability to work with Duality – ie can reflect on the past whilst staying in the present (if dissociation is present or likely – EMDR work must be stopped or delayed if not yet commenced)
The design of EMDR work is not to ‘do anything to’ the client but rather support their body and brain to work through and process their trauma, so it no longer sits in the Amygdala section of the brain where fight/flight, freeze/flop happens. The body and brain are designed to process the work, but trauma often gets stuck – Del likens it to a blockage in a U-bend when explaining it to clients – EMDR allows the drain to unblock.
Whilst clients often report feeling significantly better (aiming for a low or zero score on a scale 1-7 in terms of body sensations when thinking of a memory) after a session – Del always educates the clients that often dealing with traumatic memories often opens the gate for other memories to crop up.
Del is an excellent speaker and I came away understanding EMDR in much greater depth. Del shared that his modality is Person Centred which just shone through the whole of his presentation. It was a very accessible explanation of the lived experience of EMDR and its benefits together with ways of keeping clients safe and working with them where they were at in any given moment. Definitely worth listening to and I would very much like to hear him speak perhaps about other aspects of counselling and psychotherapy if he was willing to do so.