EMDR is an acronym for ‘Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing’.

What is EMDR?
EMDR is a powerful psychological treatment method that was developed by an American clinical psychologist, Dr Francine Shapiro in the 1980s. As a Senior Research Fellow at the Mental Research Institute (in Palo Alto, USA), she published the first research data to support the benefits of the therapy in the 1989.

EMDR is an innovative method of Psychotherapy which integrates many of the successful elements of a range of therapeutic approaches, in combination with eye movements or other forms of alternative dual attention stimulation e.g. hand –tapping or alternative audio tones which seem to stimulate the brains information processing system.

How does EMDR work?
When a person is involved in a distressing event, they may feel overwhelmed and their brain may be unable to process the information like a normal memory. The distressing memory seems to become frozen on a neurological level so that when remembering the distressing event the person can re experience what they saw, heard and felt.

EMDR appears to facilitate the accessing of the traumatic memory network and the information is processed resulting in new associations being made between the disturbing memory and more adaptive memories or information, this leads to more complete information processing, alleviation of emotional and physiological distress and development of cognitive insights.

Who does EMDR work for?
EMDR is effective in treating individuals who have experienced psychological difficulties arising from traumatic experiences, such as assault, road traffic accidents, work-place accidents, natural or man-made disasters, surgical trauma, war trauma, torture, sexual abuse and childhood neglect.

EMDR is also increasingly used to treat issues which are not necessarily trauma-related, such as panic disorder, phobias, performance anxiety, self-esteem issues and other anxiety-related disorders.

EMDR is acknowledged as effective in the treatment of PTSD by the UK DOH National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) March 2005 in the guidelines for the management of PTSD. The guidelines are based on a number of high quality randomised controlled trials that have provided an evidence base for the effectiveness of EMDR in the treatment of traumatic memories.