What is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)?

EMDR is a powerful psychological treatment for psychological trauma that was developed in the 1980’s by American Clinical Psychologist Dr Francine Shapiro.  Repeated distress and overwhelming traumatic experiences can become stuck in our memories with all the associated feelings and physical sensations.  These are stored as unprocessed traumatic memories that then become continually triggered by experiences similar to the difficult ones originally experienced and bring about all the associated painful feelings and sensations.

EMDR is very effective with PTSD, trauma, abuse, phobias, low self-esteem and any anxiety based difficulty where there is a disturbing memory linked to the onset of the difficulty. It is one of the NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) recommended treatments of PTSD.

Assessment & Treatment

Following assessment and history taking, preparation takes place before proceeding to treatment or desensitization.  Preparation involves finding an effective way to self soothe in preparation for treatment.  Desensitization involves recalling the most disturbing part of the memory, holding it together with a negative belief, emotion and sensations held in the body then following your therapist’s fingers or hand moving across your visual field.  

After each set of eye/hand movements you will be asked what came up for you/what you noticed and your therapist will instruct you to “go with that”.

This continues until resolution is reached.  Resolution occurs when the memory changes to a neutral state, how you feel about yourself becomes more positive and sensations in the body are no longer unpleasant.

As part of the treatment you will be encouraged to engage in any activities you may have previously avoided.

Further information about EMDR can be found at the following websites: