EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapeutic treatment used in conjunction with traditional models of psychotherapy and counselling.

In 1987, Dr Francine Shapiro, an American Psychologist, made the chance observation that eye movements can significantly reduce the intensity of disturbing thoughts and feelings. EMDR has developed rapidly since then and is now used by therapists all over the world. Research studies have shown that it can markedly accelerate the healing process and that the effects are long-lasting.

EMDR was initially developed to be used with sufferers of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) following traumatic events in their lives such as road traffic accidents, natural disasters, experiences of war and violence, physical and sexual assault and public disasters. In March 2005 it was validated by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) as a treatment of choice for PTSD (see www.nice.org.uk ).

EMDR has been developed to treat most other areas of psychological and emotional disturbance. These include symptoms of anxiety and depression, panic attacks, stress, eating disorders, phobias, sleep problems, complicated grief and performance anxiety. It can help people to improve their self-confidence and lead more positive and emotionally balanced lives.

It has been found that alternative forms of dual attention, bi-lateral stimulation are also effective : - such as alternate audio tones via head phones, or alternate tactile stimulation via small hand-held pads. These methods have been integrated into the clinical practice of EMDR.

A brief description of an EMDR session:

During an EMDR treatment, I will support & help you to identify the specific problem to, and from which you would like relief & healing. I will then facilitate your calling to mind of the disturbing issue or event; what was seen, felt, heard, experienced and your thoughts and beliefs currently held about this event.

Whilst focusing on these aspects of the problem, I will then ask you to track with your eyes on the movement of  lights on the EMDR machine , or my hands. If eye movements are uncomfortable for you, alternative modes of dual attention, bi-lateral stimulation will be used.

This procedure facilitates the reprocessing of psychological and emotional material. Each person will process the information uniquely, based upon their personal experiences and values. You will be simply asked to notice what comes to mind during the process without making any effort to control direction or content.

During this reprocessing clients typically experience some assistance or resolution with respect to the problem. This can be simply viewing the event in a different way or a reduction of intense associated feelings. During a successful session you may experience powerful emotions, but, by the end of the session, a reduction in the level of disturbance will be identified. The changes that occur are purely the result of your own innate, health seeking processes.

EMDR does not suit or work for everyone. It is, however, a powerful therapy which can have significant & positive effects upon a person’s psychological and emotional well-being within a relatively short period of time.

How long does EMDR take?

One or more sessions are required for assessment of the issue, including consideration of whether EMDR will be the appropriate treatment. During the assessment you will be introduced to the EMDR procedure to ensure that you feel happy to proceed with this therapy. The duration of the therapy will depend upon the particular problem and/or symptoms you would like to work on, and what you hope to achieve. Typically, a course of treatment is 3 - 12 sessions which take place weekly or fortnightly, but for complex trauma considerably more sessions may be required.


Over the years, I have integrated EMDR with my training in, and study of other trauma therapies . I seek to offer clients an approach which will best suit their individual needs.

Further reading: A good introduction is: 'EMDR: The breakthrough therapy for overcoming anxiety, stress & trauma’ by Francine Shapiro and Margot Silk Forrest

Helpful Links : - www.emdrassociation.org.uk www.emdrnetwork.org www.emdr-europe.org

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