Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing
EMDR is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences. EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma as much as the body recovers from physical trauma.
EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing. It is a therapy used to help people recover from distressing events and the problems the experience has caused, like flashbacks, upsetting thoughts or images, depression or anxiety.
EMDR therapy includes insights such as:
Learning to understand what has happened to you in a more coherent way
Learning to recognise triggers and gain self-regulation
Grounding exercises to help you feel more stable and resourced
Brief neuroscience education to help you understand and recondition physiological responses
Dealing with flashbacks, flooding, numbing and nightmares
Breaking the cycle of re-enactment, re-victimisation and rescuing behaviour
How to move past your past and into the present and future
Clearing away guilt, shame and blame
Time and support with your therapist for healing
EMDR is increasingly acknowledged (ISTSS, NICE, WHO) as a powerful psychotherapeutic treatment approach for adults and children living with the traumatic aftermath of adverse life experiences. With the adoption in the ICD-11 of new diagnoses embracing Complex as well as single-episode PTSD, EMDR is proving effective in addressing both specific- incident adult trauma (sexual abuse/assault, war, road traffic accidents, natural disaster, impact of covid-19 etc) and also the deeper, more complex impact of attachment-informed developmental dysfunction from childhood.
EMDR can also be used to help treat a variety of mental health problems like depression or anxiety, especially where a difficult life event has been involved. EMDR can be useful for people who have witnessed or experienced an event like a car accident, a violent crime, sexual or emotional abuse, bullying, a social humiliation or the sudden or complicated loss of a loved one, and are struggling to recover.
EMDR is suitable for adults, young people and children. Younger children can find it difficult to fully engage with some types of talking therapies, so EMDR can be an effective, simpler alternative.
Two minute intro to EMDR
Check out EMDRAA's animated video explaining what EMDR Therapy is, how it was created, and what happens in an EMDR Therapy session.
In-depth intro to EMDR
Learn about how EMDR therapy works, what it is like, and how widely it is recognized (9 minutes)
Thorough explanation of how EMDR works
Dr. Andrew Leeds explaining how EMDR works (15 minutes)