Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing, EMDR, is a technique used to treat anxiety disorders, phobia, panic disorder, PTSD, chronic pain, as well as complex, attachment and developmental trauma disorders.

Psychologist Francine Shapiro developed EMDR in 1987. It is a phased, focused approach to treating traumatic and other symptoms by reconnecting the client in a safe and measured way to the images, self-thoughts, emotions, and body sensations associated with the trauma, and allowing the natural healing powers of the brain to move toward adaptive resolution. It is based on the idea that symptoms occur when trauma and other negative or challenging experiences overwhelm the brain’s natural ability to heal, and that the healing process can be facilitated and completed through bilateral stimulation – also known as dual awareness – while the client is re-experiencing the trauma in the context of a safe environment.

During EMDR, individuals process memories safely, leading to peaceful resolution resulting in increased insight regarding both previously disturbing event and the negative thoughts about themselves that have grown out of the original traumatic event.

EMDR differs from conventional approaches and is, for the most part, ‘non speaking’, allowing clients greater space to process and heal. After an EMDR session, clients can experience more vivid dreams, may sleep differently, might feel more sensitive to interactions with others or to external stimuli.

EMDR therapy has been endorsed by the NHS, NICE, World Health Organisation, American Psychiatric Association and the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. According to the EMDR Research Foundation there are now over 30 gold standard studies documenting the effectiveness of EMDR therapy in resolving problems such as rape and sexual abuse, combat trauma, childhood trauma and neglect, life threatening accidents and symptoms such as anxiety, depression and substance abuse.

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