EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) is a type of therapy used to treat the symptoms of trauma. Traumatic experiences can create thoughts, feelings and memories that become stuck and prevent us from processing them in the way that we normally process other experiences. These stuck memories, however, evoke the same intense emotions whenever they are activated. They can be activated externally by smells, sounds, visual reminders but also internally by thoughts and dreams. The activated traumatic memory is experienced as though it were happening again now. The trauma is reinforced therefore processing and healing cannot begin. The wound is opened afresh.

The aim of EMDR is to help the brain to process this trauma and initiate the healing process. What was once stuck, begins to flow and allows healing to take place.

What EMDR offers is a journey through traumatic memories that allows for a regulated emotional response to those memories. If you think of it like being on a train journey through a landscape that contains these traumatic memories. In the traumatic version of this journey the train is halted by these memories becoming activated and you are pulled from the train to re-live it. Through EMDR the journey provides a way for the train to continue on its journey. The traumatic memory is noticed but the train passes it by and continues the journey. You will feel strong emotions on this journey but these are feelings that will allow you to let go, that will allow the stuck to become unstuck to initiate healing.

During EMDR you will first establish a safe place visualisation which will be used throughout the process. This is a safe and calming place that will offer a grounding experience. Then will follow a brief exploration of the thinking around EMDR and a demonstration of the eye movements involved. Then we will move on to identify target memories that you would like to process. Once this has been done, then the processing can begin.

EMDR 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.

All artwork by Michael Cousin