EMDR or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is a treatment which triggers the recollection of traumatic events. While you are experiencing those triggers, I will distract your eye movements. 

As I distract your eye movements and you recall traumatic memories, your attention is somewhat divided; this allows me to expose you to memories without there being a psychologically damaging response. Due to being exposed to those memories over time, the effects of your negative feelings will be reduced.

EMDR is particularly useful if you are suffering from:

EMDR will be a very effective therapy if you are suffering from PTSD and find it difficult to recall or talk about past events. Many studies have shown EMDR therapy to be one of the most effective treatments for PTSD. 

EMDR Therapy process

The EMDR therapy will take place over 8 phases which will require you to attend multiple sessions, usually 12. The number of required sessions depends on your individual case.

Phase 1: History and treatment planning

The first phase will allow me to determine exactly where you lie in the treatment process. I will review your case and discuss specific traumatic memories which need attention. 

Phase 2: Preparation

Phase two, or Preparation focuses on me teaching you multiple stress management techniques to reduce the impact or level of distress. Common examples of management techniques include mindfulness and deep breathing.

Mindfulness is the process of bringing attention to experiences without the need for judgement. Deep breathing is one of the simplest and easiest ways to reduce stress quickly. 

Phase 3: Assessment

During the Assessment phase, I will determine specific traumatic memories to treat as well as your accompanying physical responses to those memories or trigger situations. 

Phases 4-7: Treatment

During the Treatment phases, I will use various EMDR therapy techniques to treat memories and responses I determined during the assessment phase. 

I will draw your attention to certain negative memories, thoughts and images while directing you to perform certain eye movements. I may sometimes use other distractive techniques involved, such as tapping. 

As I distract your eye and you recall traumatic memories, your attention is divided, and I can expose you to important memories without there being a psychologically damaging response. 

After this stimulation, you will relax, let your mind go blank and determine any spontaneous thoughts or sensations you notice. I will ask you to refocus on the traumatic memory or to revisit another memory. If you are distressed, I will bring you back to the memory focused on previously. 

Following these techniques for some period of time will help reduce the influence of these thoughts, memories or triggers.

Phase 8: Evaluation

During the Evaluation phase, I will assess your progress and ask you to do the same. I will try to understand your feelings after the Treatment phases in order to determine how effective the treatment was.

How effective is EMDR therapy?

Many studies have shown EMDR therapy to be one of the most effective treatments for PTSD. The US Department of Veterans Affairs’ highly recommends EMDR to treat PTSD. EMDR is considered to be a very effective form of therapy for PTSD sufferers that find it difficult to recall or talk about past events.

A pilot study involving 22 participants with PTSD and psychotic disorders found that 77% of people benefitted from EMDR therapy. There were Improvements in conditions such as anxiety and depression, while no negative responses were observed. 

Another pilot study compared EMDR to Prolonged Exposure Therapy and deduced that EMDR was significantly more effective and that participants were much more likely to continue attending EMDR sessions. A study focusing on the effects of three & six-month follow-ups to EMDR therapy and observed a greater reduction in symptoms related to traumatic stress over long periods of time as opposed to standard care treatment.

A study involving 32 participants, split into two groups showed EMDR therapy could be an effective treatment for depression. The study found that 68% of people in the EMDR group showed signs of complete remission post-treatment. This group also showed a strong decrease in symptoms generally associated with depression. 

Most of these studies have a small sample size, so the results are to be taken with the understanding that they may not be entirely conclusive. However, given that many tests have been done similarly suggesting EMDR has positive benefits for post-traumatic stress, we can take some confidence in EMDR being a simple and effective treatment. 


Is EMDR Safe?

EMDR is considered to be a safe form of therapy. While there can be some side effects, it is generally accepted that the outcome will be beneficial and no effects should last long term.

What are the common side effects of EMDR?

EMDR, as part of the way treatment, is performed, can cause a heightened state of awareness, which won’t end on time with your session. EMDR can also cause strange or vivid dreams as a result of this.

Will EMDR cause significant distress?

EMDR can cause some distress due to the nature of the treatment. However, I will be there to guide and support you through the therapy. The benefits vastly outweigh the short term distress you may experience in sessions.

Will EMDR work straight away?

EMDR takes several sessions to work. It is essential you take part in all sessions. EMDR will not work after only one or a few sessions.