What is EMDR?


One of the approaches available to clients seeking psychotherapy at Relationship Matters is Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EDMR). This is an evidence based treatment for many types of trauma and has been proven to be effective in treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with war veterans in the USA (see EMDR Institute website for references to research). In the UK, the NICE Guidelines also identify EMDR as a treatment of choice for PTSD.

Today, the value of EMDR has been recognised beyond relieving PTSD and is widely used to treat the impact of negative experiences and events in a person's life, ranging from childhood abuse to bullying to the effects of life changes such as divorce, bereavement and illness. Such experiences can have a significant impact on a person's level of self esteem, confidence and relationships, however the events are often forgotten or disregarded as the impact is not easily identified. 


EMDR psychotherapy is an information processing therapy and uses an eight phase approach to address the experiential contributors of a wide range of pathologies. It attends to the past experiences that have set the groundwork for pathology, the current situations that trigger dysfunctional emotions, beliefs and sensations, and the positive experience needed to enhance future adaptive behaviors and mental health.
— EMDR Institute, Inc.2011

How does it work?

EMDR is different to talking therapy as each session is based on a defined structure, focusing on the past experience, sights, sounds, smells, emotions and body sensations  and uses bi-lateral stimulation, (eye-movements) to stimulate the brain to process the event and desensitise the associated distress. Over time distress can be removed and replaced with new, adaptive beliefs.

EMDR does not involve hypnotherapy and you remain fully conscious and in control of the session throughout. It is also not necessary to 'relive' a traumatic experience during therapy as using eye-movements can stimulate the brain to heal, without re-experiencing the event.