EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing) is a type of Psychotherapy aimed to help alleviate symptoms for a number of psychological issues which usually stem from a traumatic experience. For example, a road accident, physical or emotional abuse, death of a loved one or natural disaster.
Therapists qualified to practice EMDR can use particular EMDR techniques to help people recover from the following psychological issues
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Self Esteem issues
As a result of therapy, you may observe the following changes as part of your recovery:
You will be better equipped to cope with reexperiencing of disturbing or traumatic memories
Reduced intensity of traumatic memories and associated physical and emotional sensations
Increased social engagement, feelings of self-worth, reduction in feelings of isolation or depression
Overall you may feel calmer in a number of day-to-day situations and when facing new challenges, where before the traumatic memory may have increased your hypervigilance and thus influenced your ability to face such challenges.
Increased confidence and reduced symptoms of depression or feeling alone
The aim of this therapy is to reduce the often distressing impact associated with reexperiencing of traumatic memories and the psychological difficulties associated with the original traumatic experience.
Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR) helps by re-processing a traumatic event and thus reducing the impact upon you. Your therapist will do this by looking at your past, present and future and your stored memories, getting you to deliberately focus upon the upsetting event whilst receiving input of a bilateral sensory type, such as moving eyes from side to side, tapping hands or even using auditory tones.
Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR) will reduce your natural reaction to this stress by making use of these therapeutic procedures.
EMDR is not a type of hypnotic therapy. You will be in control and have full awareness throughout the session. If you experience any feelings of discomfort, feel free to tell your therapist during the session.
EMDR Therapy contains eight phases.
At your first EMDR therapy appointment, and during the first phase, your therapist may ask you a series of questions to find out a bit more about your history and the difficulties you have been experiencing. Your therapist will explain how EMDR works in detail and answer any questions or discuss any concerns you may have.
Your therapist will work with you together on relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and guided visualisation. This is to help you prepare addressing a specific distressing memory. These preparations are referred to as phase two.
Once you feel ready and have completed the appropriate preparations, your therapist will gently encourage you to target a painful or distressing memory using eye movements, tapping and alternating sounds. This is known as phases three to six.
Your therapist may then ask you to create an image, in your mind, which represents the upsetting memory. A discussion will take place about the upsetting memory, about your positive and negative thoughts, and also ask you to identify any sensations which occur in your body.
You will be asked to focus on the image, while the therapist starts the EMDR eye-movement technique. You can then discuss with your therapist, what ideas, images and feelings which occur in your mind.
During the session, some therapists may use visual field equipment such as light bars, with lights that alternate from left to right. Some will also use auditory bilateral stimulation such as clicking fingers in an alternating fashion across the auditory field.
Some may use tactile stimulation such as gently tapping your hands. You may also be asked to hold a small vibrating object, which vibrates from left to right.
You can experience intense feelings related to the distressing memory which subsides as the EMDR continues on and the traumatic memory is targeted. The therapy will help reduce the feelings associated with the painful memory.
Before the session ends, also known as phase seven, you will be given the space to feel calm and relax, using relaxation exercises.
The last phase - phase eight is referred to by practitioners as ‘Re-evaluation’. During this phase you can discuss the memories that emerged and how you are felt during the session and how you are feeling now. This will help direct the next EMDR session.
Your first and consecutive EMDR sessions may encourage a heightened conscious awareness which can continue after the actual session takes place. This means that some memories may still emerge between sessions. It is recommended that you try the relaxation techniques learned during your therapy session to help you feel calm. This can be particularly useful if the memories become in any way distressing. Your therapist is likely to recommend that you don't undertake any stressful activities directly after an EMDR session, as recall of the memories can be add to your stressful feelings. It may be helpful to you to keep notes of any feelings or memories which occur between sessions, so that they can be discussed in detail at your next session with your therapist.
An EMDR practitioner can only practice EMDR therapy once they have undergone very specific training and must be authorised to practice by EMDR UK and Ireland or EMDR Europe. Currently, there is no particular UK or European law which states a particular level of training of education is necessary to practice EMDR therapy, however, therapists are regulated and checked by the above accredited societies. If you feel unsure before beginning your EMDR sessions, you are well within your rights to request evidence of qualifications and insurance.
All therapists registered with UK Therapy Guide must show evidence of qualifications and must belong to one of the following societies.
Please view our list of therapists that offer EMDR therapy using our search facility.
Once you have chosen a therapist, please press 'Make an Appointment' to request a consultation. We will review your request and your chosen therapist will be in touch to have a brief chat and offer you an initial appointment.