Specialist Psychology Service based in Preston

What is EMDR?

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing it is a psychological therapy that was developed in the 1980's.

EMDR is recommended for the treatment of trauma in Guidelines for the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE, 2005) Positive results have also been found for other anxiety disorders such as phobia, panic disorder, general anxiety disorder and performance anxiety. It has been found to have positive results for those suffering from grief and from depression.

How does EMDR work?

EMDR works on the basis of the Adaptive Information Processing Model (Shapiro, 2001).

The model regards that most psychological problems are derived from earlier experiences that creates patterns of thinking, feeling and behaviour.

According to the model, disturbing life experiences can be insufficiently processed that is blocked in the brain and stored in memory with their original thoughts, beliefs, emotions and physical sensations.

Individuals may later react emotionally and behaviourally, consistent with the disturbing event, although this may not be at a conscious level. For example a client who presents as feeling anxious, with a belief that they are worthless may have had earlier experiences that they are able to connect to, such as witnessing domestic violence, being bullied at school, suffering emotional abuse etc.

EMDR aims to unlock negative memories and emotions stored in the nervous systems and helps the brain to successfully process experiences and link in adaptive memory networks.

How does the reprocessing work?

EMDR therapy relies on altering left-right stimulation of the brain to help it process the blocked information. This reprocessing can be through side-to-side eye movement, auditory or tactile means, for example alternating sounds in each ear or taps that you can feel

Information extracted and adapted from the EMDR Association (2012).