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What is the difference between EMDR and counselling

I offer two primary ways of working with you if you come to me for therapy. I offer psychodynamic counselling or EMDR, although I also use tools from DBT and TF-CBT as well.

If you choose to have psychodynamic counselling with me, this is a completely nondirective way of working. I will allow you to go where you need to go and as we journey together through your therapy, I will maybe gently notice links in the material with you or sometimes you may just wish for me to be your empathic companion on your journey. We will explore your past as well as your present as things that have happened in the past have shaped the way you look at the world today. There are often many links from our past that show us why we may look at things in a specific way in the present. Once this has come to the surface and you can consciously notice these things, you have the opportunity to change the way you want to look at things if you wish to. In many ways, this way of working can help you to look deeply at your life, uncover things that you may have suppressed or repressed, understand yourself better and make choices for yourself that you may not have been able to without this knowledge. In this way of working, a trusting and safe relationship is built with your counsellor and over time. As this relationship develops, more memories and links surface to be worked with.

If you choose to have EMDR therapy, you will typically, but not necessarily, come with symptoms of PTSD such as nightmares, flashbacks, intrusive thoughts / sensations or physical sensations such as trembling, pain or feeling sick. However EMDR is also used for a variety of other presenting symptoms such as anxiety, depression, childhood trauma, attachment issues, OCD and insomnia as examples. The efficacy of EMDR has been shown in multiple RCTs and is approved by multiple agencies worldwide such as NICE and the World Health Organisation. EMDR is based on the Associative Information Processing model which is a theory about how memories are stored in the brain. In this model it is understood that the brain stores adaptive and traumatic (maladaptive) memories in a different way. Often, the brain stores traumatic memories in a way that doesn’t allow for natural processing and healing to take place. If this happens, the memories are stored in a way that is frozen in time and when they are triggered, it is as if those memories being triggered are happening again now. In some way, the past becomes the present and it can feeling very upsetting and overwhelming. EMDR aims to reprocess these memories so that your brain is able to file them adaptively and allow the “mental injury” to be healed. Once you have reprocessed these memories to an adaptive resolution, remembering them will no longer feel like you are reliving them. In the process of reprocessing, any inappropriate feelings of guilt or shame can be alleviated.

If you would like to know more about either way of working or just to have an initial discussion with me about how counselling may benefit you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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