what is Eye Movement Desensitisation & Reprocessing?

EMDR is a powerful psychological treatment method that was developed by an American clinical psychologist, Dr Francine Shapiro, in the 1980s. As a Senior Research Fellow at the Mental Research Institute (in Palo Alto, USA), she published the first research data to support the benefits of the therapy in the 1989.
— www.emdrassociation.org.uk

EMDR is a form of psychotherapy for individuals who have experienced severe trauma that remains unresolved and are experiencing symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The therapy is based on the theory that when traumatic or distressing experiences occur, normal cognitive and neurological coping mechanisms may be overwhelmed. The traumatic memories are unable to be processed and result in intrusive images, thoughts and feelings, or ‘flashbacks’.

The goal of EMDR therapy is to process these distressing memories, reducing the PTSD symptoms and allowing you to develop more adaptive coping mechanisms.


What can EMDR be used for?

  • Abuse

  • Anxiety Disorders

  • Domestic Violence

  • PTSD

Appointments available within 7 days

Call us on 01908 766526 and we can arrange an appointment for you.  For further information, including our fees see our counselling and therapy page

What happens during EMDR sessions?

The therapy is offered as an individual treatment with sessions taking place on regular, preferably weekly, basis.

When you first meet with your EMDR therapist, your therapist will spend time getting to know your history. This generally includes the kind of distress you are experiencing.

Once you and your therapist feel that you are sufficiently prepared, you can then target a distressing memory with the eye movements.

Your therapist will ask you to select an image that represents the distressing event. You will then be asked to think about negative and positive thoughts, your feelings, the amount of distress you feel and where you feel it in your body.

Your therapist will then begin the eye movements while you hold the image in mind. After each set of eye movements your therapist will ask you what came to mind or what you noticed during the eye movements. 

Your therapist will continue with the eye movements until your distress is reduced as much as possible. 

Your therapist will then ask you to think about your positive thought and also check whether there is any part of your body where you still feel distress.

How does EMDR work?

Disturbing thoughts or memories are changed (reprocessed) with spontaneous eye movements to less disturbing cognition’s leading to adaptive resolution, that is, the negative emotions attached to the thought are reduced.  

EMDR consists of eight phases of treatment

Phase 1 - Client History

Phase 2 - Preparation for EMDR including creating a calm place

Phase 3 - Assessment including accessing the target, and establishing the disturbance level, exploring relevant emotions and the associated negative image as well as developing negative and positive cognition’s relating to the target.

Phase 4 - Desensitisation, that is reprocessing the targeted memory and all related associations to enable an adaptive resolution to be achieved

Phase 5 - Installation, that is, holding the positive cognition whilst thinking about the target image

Phase 6 - Body Scan

Phase 7 - Closure for a complete or incomplete session

Phase 8 - Re-evaluation


This therapy is not recommended during the first or third trimesters of pregnancy, nor with individuals with epilepsy. 


Useful information from our Mental Health Collection

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