Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprogramming (EMDR)
EMDR is a psychological therapy that replicates Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, which is a natural process used by the body to process information, events and memories.
It has been shown to be effective in addressing traumatic or emotionally charged memories. It is able to address past and present issues, and improve emotional health and wellbeing.
A “safe space” is created so that the client will feel secure in recalling memories and felt sensations that may be distressing. The eye movement is induced by the client following a light beam, row of lights, or therapists fingertip with their eyes from side to side.
Alternately, Right-to-Left sounds or hand tapping may be used, in combination or instead of eye movement. The practitioner will help the client to form coping skills and stress reduction techniques to support the work.
Target memories are linked to the negative self-belief the client associates with them, and this is modified through treatment in order to reach a new, positive self-belief for the client going forward.
NICE (the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, which tells NHS doctors which treatments to use for diseases and conditions) recommends EMDR for PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) for children, young people and adults [CG123; NG116].
Common mental health problems: identification and pathways to care
Clinical guideline [CG123]Published: 25 May 2011
Post-traumatic stress disorder
NICE guideline [NG116]Published: 05 December 2018