Eye spy a trauma cure

DESPITE scores of trials and international studies, it’s still not really understood why Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing is so effective in treating trauma, says Fremantle therapist Cheryl Pratt.

But that hasn’t stopped accredited experts and organisations, including the World Health Organisation, giving it the thumbs up.

US military

“EMDR helps people reduce vivid, unwanted, repeated recollections of traumatic events,” states the organisation’s guidelines on mental health care.

Discovered indadvertedly by US psychologist Francis Shapiro in 1987, the US military uses it for soldiers returning from the front line.

A naltrexone counsellor for more than 10 years, Ms Pratt was so impressed by EMDR she underwent the Australian training program, and went on to set up her Traumawise clinic on Fremantle’s High Street.

“I’ve worked in the addiction field for years and often [about 80 per cent of cases] where there’s an acute addiction, there’s co-existing trauma as well,” she says.

“It makes sense to be able to treat the addiction and the trauma concurrently.

“Without this, people keep relapsing when they’re triggered by flashbacks or unpleasant memories and recovery becomes elusive.

“I’m noticing people are spending less time in therapy and more time getting out there and living their lives without the encumbrance of PTSD or anxiety symptoms.”

The therapy involves recalling a traumatic event while following the therapist’s finger as its moves quickly left and right.

“A repeated set of eye movements that affect the way a traumatised brain retains memory,” Ms Pratt says.

“A nice analogy is to envisage therapy as moving a traumatic memory from one filing cabinet to another–shifting ‘here and now’ discomfort to ‘back there in the past’.”

EMDR can be used to treat PTSD, anxiety, phobias, chronic pain, grief and loss and a range of other afflictions.

“And it complements most counselling modalities,” Ms Pratt says.

For more information go to http://www.traumawise.com.au.

Or you can call Cheryl Pratt on 0478 748 942.

by JENNY D’ANGER

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