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EMDR – treatment to PTDS and every day upsetting experiences

Further to my last blog on EMDR,  I’ve put together some further information incorporating some answers to the frequent questions I’m asked….

What is EMDR?

EMDR is an abbreviation and it stands for (Eye Movement, Desensitisation and Reprocessing). It is a psychotherapy founded by Francine Shapiro in 1987. More recently Francine has said that the term “Reprocessing Therapy” would more clearly describe this complex therapy. EMDR helps people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of a disturbing / upsetting experience. Shapiro describes EMDR as helpful in reducing or eliminating disorders that originate following a distressing experience.

What Issues is EMDR Useful to Treat?

Although it’s a relatively new therapy in the field of psychology, it continues to grow rapidly in popularity, due to treatment effects, positive research studies and outcomes, and its developed procedures and protocols. It is also adaptable so that very young children can also access the therapy.

EMDR is used in the NHS and is cited in the NICE guidelines (which are the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) as a recommended therapy for treatment of Post Traumatic Stress. EMDR can be used for any trauma or disturbing life experience that is causing emotional distress in the here and now, enabling people to heal from the symptoms. Examples of major traumatic events could be Serious Road Accidents, Violent / Serious Assault, Sexual Abuse, Terrorism, Military Combat, Serious Neglect, Witnessing Death). These events can often be a cause of P.T.S.D., which is an anxiety disorder caused by frightening or distressing events. Some common symptoms or trauma may include: Sleep disturbance and nightmares, irritability, anger and oppositional behaviour, Intrusive memories and thoughts, withdrawal and avoidance of people, places and things, anxiety and panic, Hypervigilance, racing heart, headaches, stomache aches.

EMDR can also treat other disturbing event that have caused us upset and lead to psychological disturbance, (for example being bullied or teased by parents, peers, at school at work, feeling fearful or frightened, feelings of isolated, embarrassing situations) and in treating everyday memories which cause low self-esteem, powerlessness etc. Sometimes disturbance can come from multiple traumatic or disturbing situations or everyday events.

Studies have shown that by using EMDR therapy people can experience the benefits of psychotherapy that once took years to make a difference. It is widely assumed that severe emotional pain requires a long time to heal. EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma. When you cut your hand, your body works to close the wound. If a foreign object or repeated injury irritates the wound, it festers and causes pain. Once the block is removed, healing resumes. EMDR therapy demonstrates that a similar sequence of events occurs with mental processes. The brain’s information processing system naturally moves toward mental health. If the system is blocked or imbalanced by the impact of a disturbing event, the emotional wound festers and can cause intense suffering. Once the block is removed, healing resumes. Using the detailed protocols and procedures learned in EMDR therapy training sessions, clinicians help clients activate their natural healing processes.

How Does it Work?

EMDR is based around the AIP Model (Adaptive Information Processing Model).   Francine Sharpiro, who founded EMDR, created an information processing theory to explain how EMDR works. We are said to all have a physiologically-based information processing system, which processes our numerous experiences and stores our memories in a way that we can easily access them. Our memories are stored in a useful way and linked in “networks” that contain similar thoughts, sensations, emotions and images. When we experience a new situation the memory is merged or integrated with old memories, new associations are made, which can develop our learning.

In the event of us experiencing or hearing about an upsetting, negative or traumatic situation, the information processed may be incomplete, as a result of the strong feelings the event creates and some dissociation may occur. As a result of incomplete information processing the event does not connect / associate fully or merge with other healthy memories or event already stored or processed. The memory is dysfunctional / not usefully stored, with some parts of it being unprocessed. This can result in the memory being triggered by similar situations or the event being thought about regularly. We can experience feelings of reliving it, intrusive thoughts about self, strong emotions and physical sensations.

I Don’t Understand – Can you Explain Differently?

How we store and process our memories can be likened to an office worker or administrator at work. Part of their role is to develop an effective and useful filing system, where documents are stored in the correct place, with similar items and can be located easily and quickly when needed.

On the whole the filing system works very well but occasional they may have some documentation which doesn’t quick fit with their system, or is incorrectly labelled or handed to them incomplete or in a non-understandable form. The administration will do their best to store the documentation correctly but may find information difficult to locate, being mixed with unrelated paperwork or being place in their top drawer (and keeping making an appearance every time the drawers opened.

Going back to our own memories ………….. EMDR processes the different elements of the event to reduce and alleviate the distress caused by images, thoughts, emotions, physical sensations. The processing helps the disturbing / unprocessed memory to merge / link with other processed / healthy / adaptive information or memories. Once this occurs new learnings develop and the event is stored in the appropriate place with other healthy, adaptive memories. An effective treatment results in negative beliefs being changed to more helpful ones, distress being relieved and bodily symptoms reduced.

What will I Expect from Sessions?

Unlike many other psychological therapies there isn’t a need for speaking in detail, the healing comes from the client own internal processing, rather than the therapists insights. EMDR typically looks are three periods of time (past present and future) The Past being the disturbing memory / events. The current is situations in the here and now which are causing distress. The future we look at the skills and attitudes required for positive future actions.

The EMDR process / protocol is split into eight phases.

Phase 1 is the history taking sessions, where we will discuss you readiness for treatment and develop a treatment plan. Together we discuss the possible “targets” the situations you would like to work on (these could be past occasions or current). We will discuss the skills and behaviours you would like / need for future situations.

Phase 2 preparation, helps you to prepare for the more active phased of EMDR. I will help you to handling possible emotional distress during and in between sessions. This may involve using imagery and relaxation techniques. Often phase 2 and phase 1 may be run alongside each other. It’s very important that a client can self soothe and can use the grounding / relaxation techniques independently during and in between sessions before the active phase commences.

Phase 3 – 6 , these are the active phases of the process where the target is identified and processed. These phases include Assessment, Desensitisation, Installation, Body Scan.
You will identify a visual image of the memory, a negative belief about self and identify related emotions and body sensations. You are asked to identify a positive belief (how you would like to believe about yourself). Rating scales are used for both the positive belief and how strong the negative emotions are.
The image, negative though and bodily sensations are focussed upon, whilst the therapists instructs the client to move their eyes from side to side are another form of bilateral stimulation (taps on knee, hands, tappers). The client is to notice whatever happens (there may be some change to a thought, feeling, image, memory or sensation or there may be no change). The therapist supports the client when they feel stuck of in times of heightened distress. This process continues until no distress is reported. At this point the ratings of positive thought and emotion level are checked. If there is no distress and the positive rate still fits and is rated high, and there are no unusual physical sensations. The therapist helps to link these to the target with further bilateral stimulation. If distress / uncomfortable sensations are found processing would continue.

Phase 7 – is the Closure Phase. The client is reminded to log any memories or thoughts between sessions that may be disturbing. The therapist and client take some time to complete some grounding / relaxation exercises. If there are disturbances between sessions it indicates that the processes is continuing and the mind continuing to heal by itself, client is recommended to use calming / safe place techniques. Sometimes if clients are resistant in therapy the information is processed in between sessions. Some clients feel emotional between sessions and others do not. After a session some people feel tired, therefore it’s advised to plan some relaxed time after the session, to have a bit of quiet time or go for a walk.

How Many Sessions will I need?

This is unique to the individual and circumstances, as well as childhood difficulties, number of trauma and age on onset, current situation and support. Multiple traumas and complex history of abuse of poor attachments may require more long term work and more intensive preparatory work in phase 2, before active processing starts. The amount of preparation will vary from person to person and dependant of the client’s ability to self soothe. Some studies showed that 90% of single trauma victims no longer had PTSD after 3 x 90 min sessions. Another study showed that after 6 x 50 min session 100% of single trauma and 77% multiple trauma victims were free from PTSD. In another 77% of combat veterans were free of PTSD in 12 session.

With EMDR it’s recommended that you have regular sessions and commitment to attendance is required. EMDR is most effective when the full protocol has been completed. Usually 6-12 sessions are need on average.

Side Effects

With any type of psychotherapy emotions may increase for a while after the session as distressing or unresolved memories emerge. High levels of emotion or physical sensations may occur during the session and process can continue after the session in the form of dreams, memories and feelings.

Will I re-live the Trauma?

Unlike some therapies, in EMDR you are not asked to re-live the trauma for long periods of time. The high levels of intensity only last for a short amount of time and reduce quickly. You will have learnt tools to help relieve any distress if it becomes too intense.

Difference between Hypnotherapy and EMDR
(As cited for the American Journal of Hypnosis)

Although some of the tools and techniques used in EMDR can to likened to those from other therapies, including Hypnotherapy there are distinct differences to the these therapies.

Typically when practicing hypnotherapy the client is helps to be taken into an altered state of mental relaxation. In EMDR mental relaxation is not typically attempted. In fact, attempts are often made to connect with an anxious or disturbing mental state or feeling, whilst the client very much is guided to stay in the here and now.

Also in hypnosis the client develops a highly focused state of aroused receptivity. In EMDR clients maintain a dual focus on past and present – focusing on both positive and negative currently held beliefs, as well as the emotional arousal brought about by imaging the worst part of a disturbing memory.
One of hypnotherapies effects are to utilize the client’s imagination, to think out of the box and to help perceive things in a different way. In EMDR the client is helped to feel grounded and asked about current feelings and body sensations, to prevent drifting away from reality.

Summary

EMDR although a fairly recent psychotherapy is growing in popularity, this is partly due to the recommended therapy status by NICE, and many research studies taken place and also the practitioner and client feedback of the effectiveness of the therapy to reduce or eliminate feelings associated with memories, painful situations.
If you have any further questions on EMDR or any of the psychotherapies I offer you can email me on julie@symmetrytherapy.co.uk

EMDR Video

EMDR

What is EMDR?

It is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing memories.
It is widely assumed that severe emotional pain requires a long time to heal.  EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma. Clinicians help clients activate their natural healing processes.
Research Findings
Twenty positive controlled outcome studies have been done on EMDR.  Some of the studies show that 84%-90% of single-trauma victims no longer have post-traumatic stress disorder after only three 90-minute sessions.  Another study, funded by the HMO Kaiser Permanente, found that 100% of the single-trauma victims and 77% of multiple trauma victims no longer were diagnosed with PTSD after only six 50-minute sessions. In another study, 77% of combat veterans were free of PTSD in 12 sessions.
What happens in a session?

After the disturbing memory is determined the client is asked to hold different aspects of that event or thought in mind, whilst using their eyes to track the therapist’s hand as it moves back and forth across the client’s field of vision.

This rapid eye movement begins to process the memory and disturbing feelings. In successful EMDR therapy, the emotional disturbance from a past memory is reduced and feelings can change from say “self blame” to “feelings of surviving and being strong”.

Unlike talk therapy, the insights clients gain in EMDR result from the client’s own accelerated intellectual and emotional processes.  The client is the person who is healing themselves from within.

Weight Control & Hypno-Band (Virtual Gastric Band)

Weight Control Hypnotherapy

From time to time most of us become a little self conscious about how we look or more importantly how we feel about how we look.

Often with cutting back or/and increasing exercise many of us stay in control of our weight, so that it’s in the “healthy range”.

My work as a hypnotherapist is to work with the you, to listen to and understand the root cause of your issue and design a package to suit your lifestyle and goals.

  • Are you in a habit cycle of reaching for the biscuits every night and feel unable to stop.
  • Or eating is related to emotional upset.
  • Possible your portion sizes are too large or you reach to the wrong types of foods.

These are some of the many habits I help clients to control and change.

However a weight control package often brings much more that weight loss it brings greater self-esteem, confidence and happiness.

Weight Control hypnotherapy sessions are not about “Dieting” is about being in control of the choices you make.

Weight Control sessions support you to make the right food choices and we will not ban any foods that you enjoy.

I can help you to;

  • become aware of your food choices
  • increase your desire to choose healthy foods
  • enjoy the flavours and textures of foods
  • eat slowly and take time to eat
  • stop snacking in-between meals
  • increase exercise
  • act and feel like that attractive person you are
  • change your reaction to inappropriate foods
  • be able to say NO to certain foods and to leave food on your plate
  • eat smaller portions and feel full
  • decrease emotional eating
  • decrease portion size
  • increase confidence in self

 

Hypno-Band (Virtual Gastric Band)

Another weight control technique I provide is the Hypo-Band package.  You will feel like you have had a surgical Gastric Band fitted without having to go through the surgery.

Hypno-Band is carried out on people classified as “clinically obese” and with a high Body Mass Index (BMI) of over 30.    We create a state of mind where you will believe you actually have a Gastric Band fitted! You will eat smaller portions and feel full. The Hypno-Band system is a long term solution to your weight problems.

How does it work?

Over four sessions we take you through the process of having a virtual gastric band fitted, your mind will be convinced that your stomach has become smaller and that you need less food.  The process uses hypnotherapy and cognitive behavioural techniques to help you achieve your ideal weight – and stay there!

Each session in the Hypno-Band system lasts for one hour and before beginning the process a full assessment will be carried out.

If you are over-weight and really want and are committed to losing weight then you should be suitable. The only exception would be if there is a physiological reason for your weight problems or if you are taking certain medications.

How long does it take?

After the assessment the process takes four one hour sessions, over 6-8 weeks.

Will it work for me?

The key to success is YOU! No weight loss system will work unless you are committed to losing weight.  You must be prepared to change your eating habits and life-style.

If you are totally serious about losing weight then it will certainly work for you. The HYPNO-BAND system provides you with the tools and ability to lose weight and maintain a healthy body.

Myths about Hypnotherapy

During sessions with clients, as well as when speaking with friends I am often surprised by the misconceptions about hypnotherapy.  In fact one of the reasons I decided to train to be a Hypnotherapist is the mystery about the therapy and my own lack of understanding.

Before my training I had many misconceptions too – I had images of a hypnotherapist clicking their fingers or using a pendulum and the client would instantly fall to sleep – a few words from the hypnotherapist and an instant cure!!   I’m sure many of my views were taken from seeing “performers/stage hypnotists” on the TV.

The truth about hypnotherapy is very different.  Firstly hypnosis is not some magic state that only a few people can achieve – everyone has been in hypnosis many times each day.  Hypnosis or “deep relaxation” or a “selective state of awareness” occurs when our minds concentrate on one particular thing and are so engrossed that whatever’s happening around us are largely ignored.  For example driving from A – B and arriving not remembering the journey, or watching the TV and missing what your partner has just said.

The level of hypnosis or deep relaxation is as individual as we are, some people relax very deeply, whilst for most a medium state of relaxation is achieved.  From feedback from clients and my own experience is that it can feel like the body is very light or that the body is heavy, some see lights or colours behind their eyes whilst you are feeling relaxed and comfortable.  It is not sleep but can feel a little bit like when your body is relaxing down in preparation for sleep.  At all times you are aware of your surroundings, although you may not be taking too much attention, as you are so at ease and relaxed.

During a hypnotherapy session your eyes will usually be closed, whilst I play soothing music and use my therapeutic voice to support you to achieve a deeply relaxed state.  Once you are feeling calm and relaxed you will be very alert and receptive to the beneficial suggestions to give you, to help you to change the way you think about an issue, to stop a particular habit, deal with situations differently etc.  In this deeply relaxed state you do not need to logically process or even listen to the words, as they will be heard by your subconscious mind.

Hypnotherapy can be extremely powerful and work well, the hypnotherapist and client work together as a team.  It is important that the client is motivated and determined for success (if not more so) than the actual therapy work.  I also find that an initial consultation is very important to fully understand the client’s situation, so that I can prepare individual therapy sessions

After watching TV shows where “stage hypnotists” give some amazing and theatrical performances many of us beleive that one session is all it takes for immediate change.  Shows such as these are well known to take months on preparation – working through thousands of volunteers to find the one that is 100% determined and motivated to play their part, who has undergone many tests that show they achieve a very deep level of hypnosis as well as being highly suggestible.

It certainly is true that hypnotherapy can work exceptionally well, quickly and be life-changing, even after one session (e.g. smoking, some habits) however I would recommend and it would be more realistic to complete at least 3 sessions to achieve benefical changes.

In my experience hypnotherapy can be very powerful and achieve wonderful results.  It is an enjoyable experience and an excellent way to relax, chill out and unwind.  Hypnosis (without the therapy element) can also be a great tool for relaxation purposes.   Why not book a Relaxation Session to discover if Hypnotherapy is for you?

Once you tried it you’ll love it.

Bereavement and Loss

This blog was inspired by the recent Race for Life event I took part in and was overwhelmed reading the messages on girls and women’s backs, with messages for loved ones past and present. It’s an event that brings people together all over the UK to raise importance funds for Cancer Research plus giving women and families the opportunity to remember their loved ones, in a society which often finds difficulty discussing bereavement and loss.

At some point in our lives we are all faced with a bereavement or loss of a friend, relative, colleague or pet. This blog will look to highlight some of the losses we can have, the feelings and emotions that may be experienced as well as support available.

I must stress that each person’s experience of bereavement and loss is very unique to themselves and their own personal situation. The information in this blog are based upon my own views and comments are largely based around my own personal experiences and training.

Different kinds of losses

The death of someone close can be extremely upsetting; however there are other losses that can be equally as difficult. Losses can range from the loss of a pet, parental divorce, separations, loss of friendships, moving schools, loss of financial status, children moving away, loss of security….plus many more.

Experiences of grief

If you pick up any book on grief, each will explain the grieving process in a slightly different way. The reason for that is that there is not a right way or a typical way to grieve. We are all unique people, with different personalities, thoughts and experiences and therefore have our very own unique way to grieve.

Some of the main experiences of grief

·  Initial shock and disbelief. Feeling anger, anxiety, being overwhelmed and guilty.

·  Trying to cope with the pain. e.g. distracting self, avoiding reminders

·  Continuing relationship with deceased e.g. memories, dreams, hallucinations

·  Day-to-day: routines affected as difficulty functioning normally at work or with others. Can affect health and wellbeing.

·  Changing dynamics: often relationships with loved ones, family and friends are affected as you are adjusting to the loss of a loved one.

·  Changes in identity: Often we change our view of ourselves, others and the world around us.

·  Readjusting to life without our loved one. Over time we learn to re-adjust our lives without the loved one. Although the pain may still be felt, gradually it we are able to function better at work and with others. Our loved one is not forgotten; however a life is built around the pain.

Some people show few signs of loss and distress whilst others experience very difficult feelings and emotions. There is not one right way to grieve. Often people experience a sense of relief, especially with the person has suffered a painful illness. The grieving process can be very short for some people and for others the process can last years – each person and situation is very different.

From my own experience of bereavement it felt like a very black dense cloud that in the early stages it is constantly following you, which affects your daily functioning and ability to complete simple tasks. Over time this cloud sometimes lifts but makes regularly appearances when you least expect it. Over time you are able to think more clearly and able to perform tasks more easily. Eventually you have days when the sun is shining and the clouds are rarely noticed. There may be other triggers, such as anniversaries, when that pain makes a re-appearance from time to time.

Support with Bereavement

·  Let others support you If you wish to talk things over talk to close friends or family. If you don’t wish to talk about your feelings maybe writing things down may help. Don’t be afraid to ask others for support – emotionally or practically.

·  Look after you body Eat a healthy diet, look for ways to relax, limit caffeine and alcohol, and give yourself regular treats.

·   Don’t set yourself unrealistic expectations Take thinks easy, give yourself time and permission to grieve. It is important for you mind and body to take it’s time to except the loss and to re-adjust. Often people make rash decisions about work or relationships. Don’t make any important, life changing decisions during the early stages of loss.

·  Speak about your loved one and think of happy memories Comfort is often gained from memories of loved ones and been able to speak about them with someone else.

·  Take time off work You may need to take at least a few days off work – however if you require longer take it, speak to your manager about how your feelings and maybe asking to reduce your workload until you feel better able to cope.

·  Celebration Often anniversaries, birthdays and Christmas-time can be difficult, therefore surrounding yourself with supportive people can help. You may find it helpful to celebrate the person’s life and memories on these special occasions.

·  Remember Children It’s important to remember too, that children need to go through the bereavement process. Parents can help children by explaining to them what has happened, asking if they would like to attend the funeral, and allowing them to express themselves by talking, looking at memories and photos, drawing their feelings or through play.

How you can support the bereaved

·  Be there for them – listen to them, give them comfort, emotion and tears are an important part of the grieving process.

·  Let them be – grief is very personal to the individual. It is important to let the person grieve in the way they want to.

·  Don’t avoid speaking of the bereaved – don’t pretend it hasn’t happened allow the person to talk if they wish or cry

·  Remember anniversaries – an anniversary is often a very difficult time, try and be there for them on significant dates.

·  Practical help – offering practical support after a loss can take some pressure off the individual.

Other support

There are many charities offering support to children and adults following the death of a loved one, such as Cruse Bereavement Care, Samaritans, SANDS (stillbirth/neonatal), Winston’s Wish (children), Child Line, Macmillan Cancer Support. In addition to this your GP can offer support or refer you to a counsellor.

There are many services available and used by thousands of people each year – please don’t suffer in silence.

 

Supporting Children and Young People

 

I have always enjoyed and had a passion about my therapeutic work with children, finding children to be fascinating, fun, surprising, honest, challenging, intuitive and with a great awareness of their own thoughts and feelings and of those around them.   Children tend to say it how it is and I have gained much learning’s from them – they are definitely a great source of wisdom.

Children and young people of today enjoy and often seek out adults or peers who will listen, understand them without judgement or criticism and give positive support or advice.  This support can be found from a variety of sources including parents, teachers, grandparents, classmates, counsellors, family friends, neighbours, youth workers and group leaders.

 

Counselling

Therapeutic interventions with young people are widely seen to promote and enhance mental well-being and helps to reduce emotional distress and behaviour problems.  Some schools, colleges and universities have a qualified counsellor available during the school day.

 

Counselling helps the young person to increase their power and control over their feelings and behaviour.   The reasons young people attend counselling are wide ranging and include:

 

  • Bereavement and loss
  • Traumatic experiences
  • Parental separation and divorce
  • Abusive situations or suspected abuse
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Difficulties setting into a new school or area
  • Changes in mood or behaviour
  • Being bullied or being the bully
  • Low confidence or self esteem
  • Family issues
  • Anger
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Negative thinking

 

I have worked with children and young people from 4 – 16 in school settings.  With younger children I use therapeutic play to help the child express their feelings and work through their issues.  Older children prefer to talk through their feelings and to use activity sheets to help explore issues.

 

Hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy is a psychological intervention which children enjoy and gain lots of tools to support them through a particular issue.  Hypnotherapy is available for children as young as 4 years however this will depend of their ability to concentrate.  I would recommend hypnotherapy from 6yrs + unless the child is particularly mature for his/her age.

 

Children are very open to try new things such as Hypnotherapy, without the misconceptions that some adults have. Children use their imaginations every day and therefore enjoy visualising during hypnotherapy.

 

A hypnotherapy session with a child is very informal, the session is very much structured around the child’s responses, language, experiences and understandings.  Every child is unique and are often at a different learning level and maturity level to their peers.

 

A child’s reaction to hypnotherapy is often very different from that on an adult.  Typically an adult achieves a deep or medium level of hypnosis and become so relaxed they are remain very still.  Many children become very deeply relaxed and become still, however for some children prefer to keep their eyes open and are often fidgety.   Both responses from children are very natural and normal and a great deal of therapeutic work can be achieved.

 

With both children and adults it is important to make time for your child to listen to Cd’s which accompany the session, to practise the skills taught, and to give your child positive re-enforcements on their progress and hard work.  Great things can be achieved in one session, however I would tend to advise more that one session – to check on progress, to use additional techniques and to give the child and yourself further support and confidence.

 

Below show some of the typical issues children and young people gain benefit from hypnosis.

  • Confidence and self esteem
  • Negative thoughts
  • Toilet Issues (constipation, encopresis, enuresis)
  • Tics
  • Anxiety
  • Separation anxiety
  • Obsessive thoughts or compulsions
  • Sleeping problems
  • Being bullies
  • Behaviour problems
  • Learning and concentration improvements
  • Exam confidence
  • IBS
  • Fears (needles, sickness, dentist etc..)
  • Habits (thumb sucking, biting nails)
  • Divorce difficulty
  • Mutism

 

If you have any questions about theraprutic interventions for a child or young person please contact me via my website – I would be happy to discuss your queries.

 

www.symmetrytherapy.co.uk

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