EMDR - Eye Movement Desensitation and Reprocessing
I offer EMDR to clients at my practice in Selsdon, South Croydon or online (more info here). EMDR can be used for clients that are struggling to overcome one or several traumatic experiences as well many other issues. More about trauma here. I am a qualified EMDR Therapist, and a member of EMDR Association UK, which means I have undertaken accredited EMDR training by the EMDR Academy (accredited by EMDR Europe). I have completed Level 1, 2 and 3. I have also undertaken additional training on attachemed informed/focused EMDR, as well as how to deliver EMDR online.
The types of issues that EMDR can help with includes:
EMDR is an acronym for Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing. EMDR is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences. It was developed by an American clinical psychologist, Dr Francine Shapiro, in the 1980s. It is now a clinically proven therapy, backed up by research, and recognised by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the World Health Organisation, as a treatment of choice for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The NHS also offers it as a treatment for PTSD. It can also help for other presenting issues.
EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma. When you cut your hand, your body works to close the wound. If a foreign object or repeated injury irritates the wound, it festers and causes pain. Once the block is removed, healing resumes.
EMDR therapy demonstrates that a similar sequence of events occurs with mental processes. The brain’s information processing system naturally moves toward mental health. If the system is blocked or imbalanced by the impact of a disturbing event, the emotional wound festers and can cause intense suffering. Once the block is removed, healing resumes.
Unlike other therapies that focus on directly altering the emotions, thoughts and responses resulting from traumatic experiences, EMDR therapy focuses directly on the memory, and is intended to change the way that the memory is stored in the brain, thus reducing and eliminating the problematic symptoms.
In other words, the bilateral stimulation is getting the brain’s thinking left hemisphere to communicate with its feeling right half. The effect is to create healing connections at emotional, physical and intellectual levels by kick-starting the dreaming-related brain circuitry that makes sense of, and often quite quickly lays to rest, old distress which has until now continued to impact negatively on the present. This could last for one or several sessions per memory/incident.
EMDR treatment varies in duration, as it will depend on the individual's cirumstances. Single incident adult trauma are often resolved fairly quickly (one specific memory is generally completed within 1-3 sessions), whilst relational childhood trauma will be more complex and take longer due to the amount of incidents and memories, and often requires a lot more preparation to ensure EMDR processing is safe.
No one knows exactly how any form of counselling or psychotherapy works neurobiologically or in the brain. What we do know is that when a person is very upset, the brain cannot process information as it does ordinarily. One moment can become 'frozen in time', and remembering a trauma may feel as bad as going through it the first time because the images, sounds, smells, and feelings have not changed. Such memories have a lasting negative effect that interferes with the way a person sees the world and the way they relate to other people.
EMDR seems to have a direct effect on the way that the brain processes information. Normal information processing is resumed, so following successful EMDR treatment, a person no longer relives the images, sounds, and feelings when the event is brought to mind. You still remember what happened, but it is less upsetting because the emotional charge is processed. One theory is that EMDR appears to be similar to what occurs naturally during dreaming or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Therefore, EMDR can be thought of as a physiologically based therapy that helps a person see disturbing material in a new and less distressing way.
EMDR in the news
New York Times, June 2020:
Huffpost, March 2020:
Vogue, February 2020:
Metro, September 2019:
Fatherley, March 2019:
Esquire, October 2018:
The Guardian, September 2018:
Huffpost, March 2016: