Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy

This is a service that will be offered online starting September 2021.

What is EMDR?

Have you ever thought or heard someone say "There are no words to describe what I went through"?

Research has shown that when something scary or traumatising happens to us, the part of our brain that is responsible for language called 'Broca's area' in the left prefrontal cortex can become deactivated. 

This is where EMDR comes in. EMDR therapy helps us process scary events when we can struggle to discuss what has happened to us. 

EMD was created by Francine Shapiro in 1989 which later was to become known as EMDR. Francine had been walking through a park whilst thinking of something that had been upsetting for her. She noticed after some time she was starting to feel a lot better and when she analysed what could have made this change she noticed she had been moving her eyes back and forth. When Shapiro tried this with her students she noticed that people's thoughts naturally moved to a more positive way of thinking about the situation. Shapiro started to conduct more research into this phenomena and worked with combat veterans who were experiencing flashbacks and nightmares following the Vietnamese War. What we now know is that we do not have to solely focus on eye movements and so this is a treatment that is accessible to people with sight problems. 

When we do EMDR we look at what has happened in the past that is causing the present symptoms.

Phases of Therapy

There are eight parts to the therapy. Some people can move through the stages very quickly and for more complex trauma someone may need more support in one phase than another.

Phase 1: This involves history taking, treatment planning and preparation. 

Phase 2: Preparation phase: This is where we will think together what you can do if you start to feel overwhelmed and will involve teaching you some skills to manage these feelings. Alternatively, we will also discuss what to do if you do not feel anything or start to feel like you are back in the past. This phase is about making sure you are ready and feel comfortable proceeding with the therapy. 

Phase 3: This is where we choose a target memory to begin with and think about how this memory has made you think about yourself and others.

Phase 4: Desensitisation: This is where we start to process the target memory and any channels of association to it. Reprocessing starts to take place.

Phase 5: Installation phase: Where we look at new insights into the memories

Phase 6: Body Scan: Where we check for any residual bodily sensations associated with the memory. 

Phase 7: Closure: This is where we bring closure to the memory.

Phase 8: Re evaluation. 

How does it work?

No one knows exactly how EMDR works. We know that during REM (Rapid Eye Movement Sleep) often called dream sleep,  our eyes move back and forth for around 4 hours in the average person which seems to be a way of the brain processing the days events. 

When a disturbing event occurs it can get locked in the brain with images, sounds, thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations. EMDR appears to access the information and allows the brain to process the experience. With guidance it is your own brain that does the healing and you are the one in control. 

What do we mean by Trauma?

A trauma can be a big 'T' trauma where a persons life has been threatened, or it can be a more prolonged experience. 



Traumatic experiences can include;

* Road Traffic accidents

* Birth Trauma

* First responder experiences

* Bullied or humiliated.

* Feeling rejected.

* Abuse.

* Domestic violence.

* Relationship breakdowns. 

* Adverse Childhood experiences including martial conflict, negativity and anger, maternal depression, harsh critical or restrictive parenting, academic failure, economic deprivation, dysfunctional family environment,  separation, neglect, loss of a loved one or serious injury. 

People do not have to have a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to benefit from EMDR. 

Some conditions and experiences that have been successfully treated with EMDR include


*Phobias  (de Jongh et al; 2002)

*Panic Disorder (Fernandez & Faretta, 2007) 

*Generalised Anxiety Disorder (Gauvreau & Bouchard; 2008)

*Depression (Hoffma; 2015)

* Attachment Disorder (Zaccagnino & Cussino; 2013)

*Complex Grief (Sprang, 2001; Solomon & Rando 2007

* Migraine and Headaches (Marcus ;2008 )

*Chronic Pain (Grant & Threlfo; 2002)

* Phantom Limb Pain (De Ross et al; 2010; Schneider et al 2008)


Who can it help

This is a therapy that is accessible for children but also adults of all ages.