I specialise in working with Complex PTSD, with people who have been neglected or abused as children, whether physically, emotionally, sexually, or spiritually. This abuse can come in many forms and exerts a profound stress on the child’s developing brain. This can result in a range of emotional issues in later life, which manifest as eating disorders, phobias, addictions, anxiety, depression, dissociation and more serious mental health diagnoses such as Obsessive compulsive disorder; borderline personality disorder and psychosis (see Testimonials).
Talking therapy usually doesn’t work because the damage is in parts of the brain without words. EMDR with bilateral stimulation that replicates REM sleep is particularly good at processing, releasing and letting go of emotions that have been frozen in the body. It is during sleep that our brains reorganise and prune neural networks. It is this very mechanism that EMDR harnesses to process the emotions and beliefs linked with the early trauma. In other words EMDR is utilising the body’s own healing mechanisms so that the dysfunctional can be healed to be functional.
This is also about helping your autonomic nervous system (ANS) respond to what’s happening in the present, rather than react to old threats from the past. This 8-minute video explains well how childhood experiences shape the way our ANS responds to threats and safety in the world today and why so many people suffer from anxiety and chronic illnesses.
Attachment-focused EMDR was developed by Dr Laurel Parnell (pictured with me on the left) as a way of healing such early life experiences. That often means rescuing and reparenting the younger wounded child parts that emotionally still live inside and can be easily triggered by the stresses of everyday life. I now work as a facilitator with Mark Brayne and his UK based training company, EMDR Focus helping other EMDR therapists Unleash the Magic of this immensely powerful therapy.
An adult intensely re-experiencing childhood trauma is described well by a woman, interviewed on BBC radio as she recounts how EMDR trauma processing enabled her to fully recover from disturbing bullying at the age of four.
I have added my own adaptions to the Attachment-focused EMDR to ensure that even when clients can’t remember what happened in the womb, a birth trauma or preverbal neglect, then healing can still take place.