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Therapy with eye movement

therapy with eye movement

Eye movement therapy

Therapy can be used to help improve various different aspects of life, ranging from anxiety, trauma, self-esteem all the way to family and relationship dynamics. Therapy with eye movement is a specific subcategory of therapy where the eyes are used to help accelerate emotional processing and therefore expedite recovery from a range of emotional issues.

In this article we will look at the three most common types of therapy with eye movement to give a broad overview of the topic. We can then look into each individual therapy.

Split Second Unlearning Eye Movement Therapy

Split Second Unlearning Theory (SSUT) is a groundbreaking type of therapy that involves eye movement to help reduce and resolve trauma, emotional issues and future planning.

The therapy is particularly effective because it does not require the participant to share extensive details of previous pains and traumas. The therapeutic approach involves observing and identifying eye ‘access points’ which help the client to identify the hidden, subconscious source of the pain. The therapist, alongside the client, work through specific issues in a conversational style, while noticing and feeding back different eye access cues to help reveal the source of the emotional distress. At this stage the therapist can then guide the client through to the successful resolution of the issue.

SSUT as a means of therapy with eye movement has the added advantage that it is perfectly suited to online working. As the therapy primarily uses the eyes as the source of the work, it is most effectively conducted through online sessions.

SSUT uses a new concept called ‘Emotional Memory Images’ (EMI). This peer reviewed research helps us to understand what happens when we experience an emotional trauma – large or small. 

When someone is involved in an experience that they judge to be intensely emotional (personally threatened) the mind takes a ‘snapshot’ of everything that is going on in the form of the EMI. By working with the therapist to ‘clear’ the EMI, all of the previous emotions associated with the event can be neutralised.

Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR is currently the most widely used form of eye movement therapy. It is considered a powerful psychotherapeutic tool that helps you to process and recover from previously painful events and traumas.

The eye movement therapy involves accessing specific negative events, images, people and beliefs while being guided through a series of horizontal, diagonal and circular eye movements.

There is a growing body of research that shows the effectiveness of EMDR as a therapy tool. The movement of the eyes helps the brain to process emotional details much more quickly than if you were awake, much of the time without any conscious processing or thinking at all. The benefits of this type of eye movement therapy is that is does not require extensive talking on the part of the participant and so it allows the client to work through sensitive issues with minimal disclosure.

EMDR also has the added advantage of lending itself to technology. There are some powerful EMDR digital tools and apps out there that can be used simply from the comfort of your own home. For maximum effect, even digital forms of EMDR are best when accompanied with a trained therapist as they can direct focus, provide additional verbal cues, check technique and identify breakthrough moments.

The exact mechanism of EMDR is under some debate – although the beneficial effects are strongly supported. One clear benefit of EMDR is that it calms the amygdala (commonly known as the fear centre) and synchronises brain waves. These two effects combined help to process emotional memories.

When we consider what happens with a painful event, the memory moves from short-term memory to long-term memory, where it can be replayed and re-activated over and over again, causing significant emotional distress. EMDR helps to bring the moment into your working memory, where it is then processed and updated, changing how it is stored in long-term memory and therefore avoiding future re-activation.

Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)

NLP is potentially the most well-known of all the therapies that involve eye movement. It was first developed in the 1970’s and involves modelling the skills of successful people by creating specific psychological models and frameworks, allowing them to become learnable for everyone. Much of the content from NLP was collected through identifying the key traits and characteristics of the most successful people in various fields. Bandler and Grinder created strategies that other people can adopt and model to achieve their own personal goals.

In terms of eye movement therapy, NLP is a helpful tool to identify through which of the primary sensory channels (vision, sound, touch, smell, taste) a particular problem resides in. This can be observed by noticing the connection between specific eye movements, linguistic patterns and emotional states.

Using this information, specific tools, exercises and methodologies can be used to help the client disrupt the connection to their problem and therefore shift their overall perspective. Helping them to proactively overcome the problem.

NLP is a very useful modality to help you achieve your goals and learn more about effective communication.

Eye movement to release emotional distress

The methodologies of SSUT, EMDR and NLP are powerful forms of eye movement therapy. They can help people to reduce the impact of emotional pains from the past and help accelerate progress towards. future goals.

Each eye movement therapy has its own specific mechanism of action. Understanding more about how each one works assists an individual identify which treatment approach may be most beneficial for them.

We will now look into each of these forms of therapy to provide a detailed look at their unique benefits.

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