What is EMDR and how can it help you resolve emotional issues?


What is EMDR?

EMDR or Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing is a psychotherapy technique developed by American psychologist Francine Shapiro, Ph.D. It is an effective and rapid form of therapy that has been shown to help patients overcome major traumas such as sexual or physical assault, combat experiences, accidents, the sudden death of a loved one or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


In 2005 EMDR was recognised by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) as a treatment of choice for PTSD and in 2013 the World Health Organisation (WHO) formally approved the recommendation of EMDR for adults and children suffering with PTSD.


EMDR has been proven to not only be effective for PTSD but any adverse life event that has left emotional scars. The brain always tries to move towards good mental health, however if there are emotional blocks then symptoms such as depression, anxiety, stress, feelings of hopelessness, for example, arise to show that there is some emotional disturbance or block that needs resolving. The beauty of EMDR is that it can rapidly uncover any such emotional blocks and help the patient to heal.


EMDR Research

There have been more than 30 controlled studies that have taken place which have shown that 84% - 90% of single trauma victims were able to overcome PTSD in 3 x 90 minute sessions. Another study showed that 100% of single trauma victims and 77% of those that had multiple traumas were able to resolve PTSD after 6 x 60 minute sessions. In fact there have been numerous studies showing its effectiveness; many are listed on this NHS website here.


What can EMDR help with?

EMDR is not just an effective treatment for PTSD but also for “everyday” emotional issues such as:

  • Low self esteem/lack of self confidence

  • Lack of motivation

  • Feelings of powerlessness etc

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Unrealistic feelings of guilt or shame

  • Relationship problems

Plus much more.


What does EMDR involve?

EMDR involves stimulating the left and right side of the brain by having the client move their eyes from left to right (or other bilateral stimulation) whilst focusing on the emotional issue that he/she is presenting with. It is unclear what changes occur in the brain during this process however, the client is able to use their own accelerated intellectual and emotional processes to transform the disturbing memories and feelings so that they no longer bother him/her.


These are the steps that normally take place during an EMDR session:

  • The client is asked to create an image in their mind of the related memory and to:

  • State a negative belief about themselves and any related emotions and body sensations.

  • State a positive belief about how they want to feel.

  • The client is then instructed to focus on the image, negative thought and body sensations whilst engaging in an EMDR bilateral stimulation such as:

  • Following the therapist’s finger continually moving from left to right.

  • Listening to a repeated click in the left ear and then the right.

  • Repeated tapping on the left hand then right.

  • After each repetition the client is asked to let their mind go blank and to notice whatever thought, feeling, image, memory, or sensation comes to mind.

  • This process is repeated until the client reports no distress when thinking about the original distressing memory.

  • The client is then asked to focus on the positive statement whilst bilateral stimulation takes place again. This is repeated until the client reports that their belief in the positive statement has increased.

Click on the link below to watch a little video about EMDR:

If you have emotional issues that need resolving then contact me for a no-obliation chat to discuss how EMDR can help you.

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