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What is EMDR therapy and how can it help?

Posted on Thursday, 02 February 2023, in Treatments & Therapy

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What is EMDR therapy?

Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a recognised and effective treatment option for anxiety, PTSD and other conditions. It was developed in the 1980’s by a psychologist interested in how our brains could be ‘reprogrammed’ to overcome distressing memories and thoughts. Today, it's recognised by many healthcare professionals and organisation including the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), as a successful and effective treatment option for PTSD.

EMDR is effective for treating psychological trauma arising from experiences as varied as war-related experiences, childhood sexual and/or physical abuse or neglect, surgical trauma, natural disaster, road traffic accidents, assault, panic attacks, complicated grief, workplace accidents and personality disorders.


EMDR therapy explained

EMDR is a psychological treatment designed specifically to work with psychological trauma's effects. EMDR suggests that many psychological difficulties result from distressing life experiences that have not been properly processed or stored in memory.

Normally, memories are processed and integrated using the individual’s experience of themselves and their world. However, when you are involved in a distressing experience, you may feel overwhelmed and unable to process the information. The distressing memory becomes ‘frozen or stuck’ without you adequately processing it to an adaptive resolution and can continue to have a powerful influence on your life many years after the event.

When you try to recall the distressing memory, it can often trigger a re-experience of what you saw, smelt, tasted, heard, or felt (‘as if it’s happening now’). Sometimes, the memories are so distressing that you may avoid thinking about the event to avoid the distressing feeling.

EMDR stimulates the frozen or blocked memory/information processing system and can help you reduce the distress of all the different kinds of memories, whether it was what you saw, smelt, tasted, heard, or felt.

If you're interested in exploring EMDR therapy, it's important to find a qualified therapist trained in this approach. Our team of experts includes psychotherapists and counsellors trained in this approach. To arrange a consultation, please call us on 0203 326 9160.


Read more about our talking therapies options