Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a therapy that can be helpful to people who have experienced trauma. Many people struggle with difficult thoughts, feelings and memories following a traumatic event (or events). The aim of EMDR is to help your brain to process these distressing memories and feelings in order to feel less stuck. This means being able to reduce distress and move forwards to live your life more fully, and in line with the things that are most important to you.

Who can we offer EMDR to?

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing is suitable for children and adults. It is sometimes offered alongside other forms of therapy. We currently are only able to offer this therapy to adults.

What kind of traumatic events can EMDR help with?

EMDR can be used to support people through memories of any traumatic event. It is recommended by The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) as the first treatment for people with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, and is widely used across the world. If you are unsure whether this therapy is right for you, your therapist will be able to talk through and questions or concerns you have.

It is impossible to summarise all events that could be classes as ‘traumatic’ as this is hugely individual. An event that has a lasting impact on one person may not have such an impact for someone else. Distress following a trauma is not a sign that you have done anything wrong, it is simply a clue that your brain may need help to process what has happened.

Some of the traumatic events that eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) can help with include:

War related experiences
Childhood sexual abuse, physical abuse, or neglect
Natural disaster
Physical or sexual assault
Health related trauma including surgical trauma
Road traffic accidents
Workplace accidents
Indirect traumas (when we witness or hear about something traumatic happening to someone else)

How are the sessions planned?

We would usually recommend weekly sessions of 60-90 minutes, but this will be discussed with you to make sure you feel comfortable with the pace of the work. For some people a small number of sessions (between 6 and 12) is enough. This might be if you have experienced a single event trauma. For people who are experiencing very significant trauma symptoms, or who have been through many traumatic events the therapy may work best over a long period of time, such as a year or more.

During therapy sessions you are supported to feel very safe, and once you feel ready to do so, you spend time recalling a traumatic event. You will not have to discuss these in detail with your therapist, though you can if you want to. At the same time your therapist will begin what is called ‘bilateral stimulation’. This means a rhythmic left-right pattern of something you hear, see or feel. It is completely safe and you have full control of this.

Some examples are:

  • moving your eyes from side to side
  • tapping movements on different sides of your body
  • tones you hear through one ear then the other wearing headphones


Research shows that eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is an effective way of reducing the distressing impact of traumatic events. It is at least as effective as other talking therapies, and some studies have shown that EMDR can help people more quickly than other trauma therapies (such as trauma-focussed CBT).Talking and thinking about any traumatic event can be really difficult. Sometimes people feel a little bit worse before they start to feel better. Your therapist will support you through this, and help you manage any difficult feelings that come up for you.


To book an assessment appointment or to discuss your requirements, please get in touch using our Contact Us Page.