EMDR is said to be an effective treatment for recalling distressing events. It is thought to be less emotionally upsetting when the person's attention is diverted due to the bilateral stimulation allowing them to be exposed to the memories or thoughts without having a strong psychological response.
Prince Harry has joined forces with Oprah and Apple TV to break down the walls of stigma surrounding mental health. In the new five-part docuseries titled, The Me You Can't See, Harry, among a number of others including Oprah and Lady Gaga, has opened up about his own struggles with mental illness. After the death of his mother, Princess Diana, Harry was traumatized. He was only 12-years-old then. He continued living with the trauma well into his adult life but finally decided to put his mental health first. In the series, he takes us through a private therapy session where he is administered eye movement desensitization and reprocessing or EMDR treatment.
Prince Harry, who lost his mom, Princess Diana, at age 12, is opening up about a therapy technique that he says has helped treat his trauma. https://t.co/lyX6013zjr— Good Morning America (@GMA) May 24, 2021
Wendy Byrd, EMDR practitioner and the president of EMDR International Association, told Good Morning America, "With EMDR, we go back, we look at the past, we look at how your past may be affecting what's happening to you, currently. It's changing the way the experience is stored, and when the brain changes the way it's stored, you feel differently about it." This is an effective treatment for trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD.) The Duke of Sussex is seen undergoing the bilateral simulation in which he sits with his eyes closed, arms crossed across his chest, tapping his shoulders.
Bilateral simulation movements occur in rhythmic patterns of going from left to right, like horizontal eye movements. Another option for this simulation is shoulder tapping. According to Healthline, EMDR is said to be an effective treatment for recalling distressing events. It is thought to be less emotionally upsetting when the person's attention is diverted due to the bilateral stimulation allowing them to be exposed to the memories or thoughts without having a strong psychological response. Past events are also recalled in small doses by directing the rhythmic patterns. It is believed that this technique reduces the impact the distressing memories have on the person over time.
"What makes (EMDR) kind of unique is that it uses bilateral stimulation ... done in thirty-second sets while the client simultaneously is focusing on aspects of a maladaptive memory," Dr. Vaile Wright, the senior director of the American Psychological Association told TODAY. "The therapy really focuses on processing a memory while you're engaging in some sort of task." Wright went on to explain that this technique increases cognitive flexibility. The therapist discusses their patient's "maladaptive memory, possible triggers, and ways to deal with those triggers." It can even be teamed up with medication or talk therapy depending on individual cases.
In one episode of the docuseries, Harry explains how the most vivid memory he has of his mother is of her driving him and William away from the paparazzi and their flashing cameras, as fast as she could. This was also how she died. In a violent car crash after being chased by paparazzi. "London for me is a trigger because of what happened to my mum and because of what I experienced and what I saw," Harry says during his therapy session in the series. His mother's death was something he could not process through his 20s and well into his 30s because of the stigma around it, especially being a senior member of the British royal family.
"I didn't want to think about her," Harry said of his mother. "Because if I think about her, it's going to bring out the fact that I can't bring her back and it's just going to make me sad and I just decided not to talk about it." But after he and his wife, Meghan Markle, decided to leave their senior roles of the royal family behind they chose to put their mental health first before they welcomed their second child. "We chose to put our mental health first. That's what we're doing and that's what we will continue to do," Harry stated. "Isn't this all about breaking the cycle and isn't this all about making sure that history doesn't repeat itself?" You can watch the trailer of the docuseries here: