Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)

This therapy was developed in the late 1980s and is recognised by the NICE guidelines as effective for trauma based difficulties such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The therapy aims to help individuals process traumatic experiences but does not require the individual to talk about or re-live the distressing events.

Following trauma it takes time to process difficult experiences so that they become part of our memory. If there is a disruption in the processing system of our brain this can cause information, which might be visual, heard or felt, to remain unprocessed and stored as it was experienced at the time. In the present certain perceptions can link back to the unprocessed parts of the trauma which can be re-experienced through emotions, physical sensations, thoughts and beliefs.

Combined with relaxation and imaginative connection with a safe place, bilateral stimulation is employed. This can be through eye movements, touch such as tapping on the shoulders or through audio tones. This allows the individual to feel safe in the room with the therapist, who then helps them link between the present and the past unprocessed experience. The therapist will ensure that the individual has strategies to support them during therapy. These strategies can be helpful throughout life, long after therapy has finished. Sessions will usually be on a weekly basis and last about an hour. It becomes clear to the therapist and individual when therapy has effectively helped the difficulties related to the past trauma. The work is then concluded.