EMDR is a psychotherapy designed to work with individuals who are struggling with distressing or traumatic memories. The theory underpinning EMDR suggests that when memories are too overwhelming, they are not stored properly in the memory part of our brain (the hippocampus). This is why these memories can be easily re- triggered and replayed (we call these flashbacks), causing high levels of distress.
These memories sometimes need help to be processed, which is where EMDR can be
Who is EMDR for?
Whilst EMDR was developed and is best known for treating trauma, it can help with
a range of mental health difficulties, including but not exclusive to anxiety and
What does EMDR look like?
EMDR involves focusing on three different time-periods: the past, present and
future. You will identify past events with your clinician that may have contributed to
the way you are feeling now. You will also identify current triggers and stressors and
anticipated, future problems. Once the events have been identified, together with
your therapist, you will identify a memory to target for processing (to store the
memory in a more helpful way).
In the processing stage of EMDR, you will be asked to do three things:
1) Hold an image of your memory in mind
2) Identify the negative belief you hold about yourself from the memory
3) Identify related emotions and body sensations
You will be asked to do these whilst paying attention from one side to the other.
These are called “bilateral stimulation” and can be in the form of eye movements
from left to right, tapping or following sounds left to right. These bilateral
stimulations have been found to enhance memory processing, allowing you to access
thoughts and emotions related to the memory and store this away with a new
meaning. You will also be asked to identify a positive belief about yourself with the
aim to transform the meaning of the memory.
How does it work?
The bilateral stimulation is said to work in similar ways to Rapid Eye Movement
(REM) sleep; the part of our sleep cycle whereby we process events from the day and
file them away in our memory store in the brain.
If you think EMDR may be helpful for you, please feel free to reach out or book an
initial consultation so we can see if we would be a good fit to work together.