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EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) is a form of therapy that helps people to heal symptoms and emotional distress caused by difficult and disturbing events or experiences. Whilst EMDR is well known for the treatment of PTSD, research tells us that it can be used to treat other difficulties. 


Research has found that EMDR can help people to achieve the healing benefit of therapy in a shorter time frame that can take years to obtain using other methods. Think of psychological healing like that of a healing physical wound – when you cut your hand, your body works to close it up, but what happens if there is a foreign object or repeated cut in the same place? The wound remains open and continues to cause pain and discomfort. When we are able to remove the blocking object, the wound heals. EMDR uses the brain’s natural ability to heal to process blocks that get in the way of your brain doing this naturally.


We appreciate that this makes it sound very simple, rest assured the goings on are quite complex and require the therapist to apply detailed protocols, targeting specific memories and experiences in order to resume healing from disturbing and difficult events you have experienced. 


The EMDR therapist completes a thorough assessment of the client’s problem, exploring their current means of coping to inform the treatment plan. Depending on the complexity of the problem, the client’s experiences, and resources available to them, your therapist will design the treatment plan, helping you to understand what this looks like and what is involved. Typically, your therapist will ask you to recall specific events whilst applying rapid eye movements (like the rapid eye movements we would experience during REM sleep), tapping or sounds (left to right). These movements, sounds and sensations (also known as bilateral stimulation) stimulate the brains pre-existing processing system to update and process a memory, therefore reducing the emotional and psychological distress associated with it. 


EMDR is a therapy for individuls which can be delivered from once to multiple times per week, depending on the need and the problem. On average, EMDR can span between 6-12 sessions, however it is important to note that some people benefit from less, and others from more. The amount of sessions would depend on a number of factors including the complexity of the problem, the person’s readiness to engage in therapy and the resources they have available to them. 



  • You are exposed to distressing stimuli less so than in therapies such as CBT which require frequent and intensive reliving of traumatic and distressing events. 

  • Healing can be achieved in less time than other forms of therapy. 

  • EMDR relies on the pre-existing systems for healing and less so on talking about problems for extended periods of time or in extensive detail. 

  • EMDR has a wide evidence base and is proven to be effective for numerous difficulties. 



  • Whilst you are not exposed to distressing images for prolonged periods of time during EMDR, you will be asked to recall images regularly during processing. 

  • EMDR is less prescriptive in terms of number of sessions as this varies person to person and so it is difficult to comment on how many sessions it may take to achieve therapy goals to begin with. 

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