EMDR stands fro Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing. EMDR Therapy is a gold standard treatment approach for trauma and PTSD. Though it can also be used for phobias, challenging and difficult memories as well as being used to enhance performance.
EMDR is predicated on the idea that we encode memories in the brain with the sensory stimuli, emotions and thoughts that were experienced at the time of the event. Sometimes these memories aren’t processed and stored in an effective way; this means that sometimes when we experience similar stimuli, emotions or thoughts we might experience that memory as if it is happening right now, with the related distress, rather than as something we remember as having happened in the past. Our memories sometimes get stuck like when our computer just freezes and we need to reset or restart it.
EMDR Therapy is sort of a reset for our memory and assists our brain to process memories so they are no longer experienced in the present. EMDR Therapy uses bilateral stimulation (BLS) to challenge the working memory while you think about a particular distressing memory allowing your brain the opportunity to process it. Some types of BLS might be involve you to move your eyes from side to side as you follow a dot on a screen (especially when using telehealth) or your therapist’s fingers or it might be tapping alternate sides of your body or listening to a tone in alternate ears.
ACT & MBCT
ACT and MBCT are what are commonly known as fourth wave CBT approaches. This means they are more advanced forms of CBT, but still fit under the CBT umbrella. MBCT uses mindfulness to assist individuals in how they approach their cognitions, beliefs and attitudes. It is a more gentle approach than trying to change how you think. Though the result is often an altered relationship to your thoughts which can mean a greater level of contentment.
ACT also uses mindfulness to shift focus away from unhelpful thoughts. Within ACT there is also an understanding that we might need to review what is actually important to us in life. These values are a valuable compass that can help guide our behaviour towards actions that align with these values. Mindfulness can be really helpful in enabling us to manage those unhelpful, unwanted and unpleasant thoughts and emotions effectively.
The concepts of traditional CBT that our behaviour is often influenced by our perceptions, thoughts, attributions and emotions underpin ACT and MBCT. At times behavioural experiments and exposure can be useful in shifting how we experience what happens in our lives. However, it can be very hard to simply change our thoughts like more traditional CBT tends to suggest. This is where a mindfulness approach, as used in ACT and MBCT, can be enlightening.