Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (more commonly known as EMDR), is a form of psychotherapy developed in the 1980s by American psychologist Francine Shapiro.

The therapy is used to treat a wide range of psychological difficulties that typically originate in trauma, such as direct or indirect experiences of violence, accidents or natural disaster. EMDR therapy is also used to treat more prolonged, low-grade distress that originates in shock or loss in adult life and/or issues experienced during childhood. The experiences outlined above often lead to a post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis, for which EMDR has been recommended by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

Increasingly, EMDR therapy is also being used for the treatment of other issues including:

  • Depression
  • Performance Anxiety
  • Phobias and Fears
  • Anxiety
  • Low Self-Esteem.

Reported benefits of EMDR include:

  • A reduction in re-experiencing trauma memories.
  • Feeling more able to cope with and manage trauma memories without needing to avoid potential triggers.
  • Feeling more able to engage in and enjoy pleasurable activities and relationships.
  • Reduced feelings of stress, anxiety, irritation and hypervigilance – allowing you to rest well, address pressure and/or conflict and go about your daily business without feeling fearful and prone to panic.
  • Reduced feelings of isolation, hopelessness and depression.
  • A boost in self-confidence and self-esteem.

How does EMDR work?

When traumatic events occur, the body’s natural cognitive and neurological coping mechanisms can be overwhelmed and subsequently the memory is inadequately processed and stored in an isolated network.

The goal of EMDR therapy is to properly process these traumatic memories, reducing their impact and helping clients to develop coping mechanisms. This is done through an eight-phase approach to address the past, present, and future aspects of a stored memory, requiring clients to recall distressing events while receiving bilateral sensory input, including:

  • Side to side eye movements
  • Hand tapping
  • Auditory tones.

How will I feel after my session?

The nature of EMDR means that after your session the treatment will continue to be active in your awareness. This means that you may find yourself thinking about the thoughts you focused on during your session and you may feel the same emotions you experienced during your session. To help you through this process, allow yourself time and space to relax after an EMDR session. While everyone is different, over time these feelings will generally become less intense and many people say they feel a strong sense of relief after their sessions.