What is EMDR therapy?

EMDR therapy (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) is a structured therapy method which uses eye movements and other stimuli to facilitate rapid processing of traumatic events or other distressing life experiences.

EMDR is recommended by The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a key trauma therapy for people with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

EMDR therapy is suitable for adults and children.


What can EMDR therapy help with?

In addition to being an effective therapy for trauma and PTSD, EMDR therapy can be very effective in the treatment of conditions such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Panic Attacks
  • Grief and Loss / Sadness that does not go away
  • Phobias
  • Performance anxiety
  • Stress related issues
  • Eating disorders

Types of traumatic events that EMDR therapy can help with:

  • Assault
  • Miscarriage and childbirth trauma
  • Abuse (sexual or emotional)
  • Surgical trauma
  • War related experiences
  • Childhood abuse or neglect
  • Natural disaster or home fires/flood
  • Road traffic or workplace accidents

I may use EMDR as a treatment on its own or in combination with other therapeutic approaches.

How does EMDR therapy work?

During therapy sessions you will be asked to recall a traumatic event and at the same time receive bilateral stimulation. This means receiving stimuli in a rhythmic left-right pattern. The stimuli can be something you hear, see or feel.

For example, bilateral stimulation could involve:

  • moving your eyes from side to side
  • tapping movements on different sides of your body
  • receiving sound stimuli alternating between each ear

Unlike other types of therapy for trauma that focus on directly altering the emotions, thoughts and responses resulting from traumatic experiences, EMDR therapy focuses directly on the memory, and is intended to change the way that the memory is stored in the brain, thus reducing and eliminating the problematic symptoms.

The aim is not to erase the memory but to reduce/remove the emotional affect it triggers.

Length of treatment

Session will typically be held weekly and will last 60 or 90 minutes.

Each individual reacts differently to EMDR therapy, and therefore it is not possible to predict how many sessions will be required. For some people, a single trauma may be resolved in three sessions, however it may take six sessions for others, or more for complex traumas.

Nevertheless, treatment is generally much shorter than traditional talk therapies.

EMDR therapy for PTSD Horsham West Sussex

What are the 8 steps of EMDR Therapy?

Within the process of Eye Movement Desensitization treatment, the EMDR therapist will go through eight phases, the first will be treatment planning and patient history.

Phase 1: Treatment planning and patient history 

Phase 2: Preparation for EMDR therapy

Phase 3: Patient assessment 

During this stage, the EMDR therapist will identify the exact traumatic memory that causes negative symptoms for the patient.

Phase 4: Desensitization

Phase 5: Installation

Phase 6: Patient body scan

Phase 7: Therapy closure

At the end of every treatment session, there is a closure section.

Phase 8: Re-evaluation of the patient 

The next session will always start with a re-evaluation.

Useful links about EMDR Therapy

EMDR therapy for anxiety - Horsham or online

EMDR therapy for PTSD in Sussex and online