EMDR and the BLAST technique
The BLAST technique, which I use, is a form of EMDR. EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprogramming and it is used to help reduce the stress that you feel after you have experienced trauma.
In everyday language, the word 'trauma' usually means being caught up in extreme circumstances like assault, rape, or natural disasters, but therapists use it for any scary or upsetting situation; this can include quite common experiences, like a relationship breakup or feeling very embarrassed. Just about everyone who experiences a trauma reacts to it by becoming anxious, worried or scared for a while. Often, the feelings fade with time, but some people continue to feel as if they (or others) are in danger, or that their stress or anxiety is out of control. Others seem to get over the event at first, but the anxious feelings return later. Either way it can lead to anxiety, worrying, phobias and sometimes more serious conditions like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
How does EMDR work?
We're not sure exactly how EMDR works, but there are theories. We do know the left and right hemispheres (sides) of the brain control different elements of our experiences. When we experience events, we receive them first in the right-hand side of the brain. If the event is not important or emotional (like buying a sandwich for your lunch) it quickly passes across into the left side of the brain and becomes a memory. We can recall it if we want to, but when we do, we understand it is part of our past. If we experience a scary or emotional event (say someone robs the sandwich shop at gunpoint while we are there) the right-hand side of the brain hangs onto that experience and kicks off the production of stress hormones. It's thought that sometimes the event is not passed across to the left brain properly (or at all) so our brains continue to react as if it was happening right now. This is when the feelings start to intrude into your day-to-day life and become a problem.
EMDR is thought to encourage the brain to process more normally so the trauma becomes just a memory. I use a particular version of EMDR called the BLAST technique. It is simple and noninvasive, though it can be emotional. Afterwards, you still remember the event, but the emotional punch is less powerful and may not be there at all. Some people say this works because the eye movements involved mimic REM, which is the way our eyes flicker when we are dreaming. Another theory is that the movements encourage both halves of the brain to be active, so the message passes more easily from one to the other. Either way, there are many studies to show it works well with this type of issue. Some of them are ON THIS LINK.
Can this be used for anything else?
Yes, it can be used in many circumstances in which you have intrusive thoughts or emotions such as OCD, cravings (for food or tobacco), phobias etc. It may be combined with other approaches such as coaching, counselling, hypnotherapy or relaxation techniques.