What is EMDR? (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy approach designed for working
with distressing or traumatic memories. The theory behind EMDR is that many psychological diculties are the
result of distressing life experiences which have not been stored in memory properly and are said to be
unprocessed or blocked. These traumatic memories may need some help to become processed, and EMDR is
one way to do this.
- Normally memories are filed away by the hippocampus
- Some experiences are so overwhelming the memories are not stored properly
What will I be asked to do in an EMDR session?
There are a number of steps to EMDR treatment, but some of the key stages are to:
- Preparation Phase
- Think of a troubling memory, then identify an image of the worst moment of that memory
- Identify a negative belief about that worst moment (the therapist may ask “what is the worst thing that moment says about you?”)
- Identify emotions and bodily feelings linked to that moment
- Think about the image & belief while at the same time making left-to-right eye movements (or while paying attention to tapping sensations or sounds that are alternately given from left-to-right)
- To allow your mind to ‘go with’ whatever comes up and just notice what happens
- This process will be repeated until the memory causes less distress (this may happen in one session, or may take more than one session)
How long does treatment take?
EMDR sessions are sometimes slightly longer than typical therapy sessions (up to 90 minutes). The number of
sessions needed will depend on the type and severity of trauma which you experienced. NICE estimate that
8-12 sessions may be necessary to treat simpler traumas, with more sessions necessary for multiple traumas.