Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing

This wonderful therapy is recognised as having the highest level of research evidence for the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) by the Australian Psychological Society (EBPI Review 2010).  Over 300 studies have been published showing EMDR to be effective for treating depression, anxiety, phobias, addictions, body dysmorphia and other mental health issues. 

 EMDR has been used effectively with adults, but also with children and adolescents..

The evidence supports EMDR Therapy.

It is one of the most researched psycho-therapeutic approaches for PTSD. It can be used for a variety of clinical problems which may have resulted from disturbing life events. Following treatment, clients no longer relive the trauma or feel disturbed when they think about it.

How does it work?

The brain has mechanisms to heal itself naturally in the same way the body does, eg, a cut on the skin. Much of the ''brain healing'' occurs during sleep, in particular during Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. EMDR utilizes this natural process because sometimes the brain is 'blocked' from processing the traumatic or stressful experience. The memory continues 'frozen in time' and so continues to be disturbing when we think about it or a current event triggers that memory. Such memories have a lasting effect and interfere with the way we see the world and relate to other people, often creating avoidance of places or people that trigger the memories.

Using eye movements, tappers in each hand, or sounds moving from ear to ear (we call this Bilateral Stimulation), the therapist works through a well established protocol so that afterwards the memory is no longer disturbing. Flashbacks and nightmares cease. The client still recalls what happened, but it is not upsetting.

Some Examples

  • Liz had a traffic accident and even a month later was still too frightened to drive the car. After only 2 sessions of processing, she was back to driving normally.

  • Bill, as a teen, had killed his own old dog when he was helping his Dad on a farm during a drought shoot sheep. Twenty years later that sad event was still affecting him. Tears flowed as processing happened but now the memory is not upsetting.

  • Sam was bullied at school and even years later  he still had low self-esteem and acted mostly passively, although sometimes he erupted in angry violence. After processing, Sam became much more confident and assertive.

  • Carol felt distressed after giving birth to a son. She experienced anger and often cried for long times. She was finding it difficult to relate to her husband. She was aware of the problems but couldn't help herself - her emotions were overwhelming. (Carol was diagnosed with post-partum depression.) After processing (in a sensory, cognitive, emotional and somatic way), Carol began to feel happy about having her son and the relationship with her husband improved.

How long does it take?

One or more sessions are required for the therapist to understand the nature of the problem and to decide whether EMDR Therapy is appropriate. A session usually lasts from 60 to 90 minutes. The type of problem, life circumstances, and the number of previous experiences will determine how many sessions are necessary.