EMDR: Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing



What is EMDR? 

EMDR is a therapy that helps you process and recover from past experiences that are affecting your mental health and wellbeing.

It involves using side to side movements combined with talk therapy in a specific and structured format. 

EMDR helps you process the negative images, emotions, beliefs and body sensations associated with traumatic memories that seem to be stuck. These can contribute to a range of mental health problems.

EMDR helps you to see things from a different perspective and relieves the symptoms that you were suffering.  EMDR is seen as a way of kickstarting your natural healing and recovery process and is approved and used in the NHS and The World Health Organisation (WHO).

What can EMDR help with?

EMDR was developed – and is best known – as a therapy for treating trauma or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It’s recognised by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a treatment for PTSD.  It is now used for so many other issues such as anxiety, depression, addictions, behavioural difficulties, relationship issues and more serious mental illnesses. 

How does EMDR work?

EMDR has a specific structure and a therapist will work through several stages with you. These include assessment of your current symptoms and your readiness for EMDR, as well as understanding how your past has shaped your present.

The therapist will also explain why you’re experiencing your current symptoms, and how trauma affects the mind and seems like it will never go away.

The next part of the therapy involves accessing the traumatic memories and starting bilateral stimulation. This involves stimulating either side of your brain in an alternating left-right fashion to help you access your subconscious mind and process what is stored in there and how it affects you.

This can be achieved by either making eye movements from side to side, listening to sounds in headphones that alternate from one ear to the other, or by tapping either side of your body. The eye movements may be similar to rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which take place as we dream.

The duel-attention focus means clients are anchored in the present, but also have one foot in the past.

Your therapist helps kickstart your natural healing process which replaces the negative or traumatic images or memories. You can view them in a different way so they don’t feel distressing anymore.

Sessions vary.  Sometimes people only need around six sessions of EMDR therapy for it to make a dramatic difference, although some clients with more complex issues will require more. 

Please follow the link to the short video which is helpful in explaining a bit more about EMDR.