Specialist therapy is a crucial part of the recovery for survivors of rape but some people are having to wait up to 14 months for support because of long waiting lists. EMDR and trauma focussed CBT are the recommended treatments for PTSD which can often be present following a sexual assault.
EMDR therapy was first developed by American psychologist Dr. Francine Shapiro in the 1980s. As a relatively recent form of psychotherapy often used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, it is much more physical than regular talking therapies. As part of an eight-phase treatment protocol, practitioners help their patients reprocess trauma by asking them to recount distressing memories as they move their eyes from side to side, or tap their patients on their hands or legs (known clinically as “bilateral stimulation”).
The core premise of EMDR therapy is that PTSD is caused by disturbing memories that haven’t been adequately processed. As a result, these memories are easily triggered, causing a negative emotional response. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), EMDR therapy aims to tackle these memories by changing the way they are stored in the brain.
When patients receive bilateral sensory input as they focus on the traumatic memory, the brain is thought to re-process the memory, making it less vivid and distressing. At least 20 randomized controlled studies have taken place looking at EMDR therapy’s therapeutic potential for PTSD sufferers. One 1997 study found a 90 percent PTSD remission rate in sexual assault victims after three 90-minute sessions.
Where EMDR differs from other treatment methods, it offers a “blind to therapist” method where memories can be re-processed without verbalising actual events. I often work blindly with my clients which offers them safety and control over their treatment journey.
Contact our Lichfield clinic to find out further information.