Horsham | Sussex

m: 07732 532 891

e: mia@miaphillipstherapy.co.uk


How EMDR works

Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing - an innovative clinical treatment originated and developed by Dr Francine Shapiro in 1987.

Using the advances in neuroscience (the study of systems in the brain) EMDR Therapy is at the cutting edge of how we view and practice psychological therapy, giving us a greater understanding of how the brain and body experience and process trauma and distress.

And this isn’t just about those big distressing events in adult life such as violence, war, and plane crashes. We also realise how unresolved trauma experienced during our childhood through neglect, abandonment, boarding school experiences, family break up, sexual abuse and inadequate parenting to name a few, also impact on our adult lives and are often the basis for people seeking help through therapy.

Sometimes memories are so upsetting that we try to avoid thinking about them, burying them so deeply that the link can’t be made between the traumatic past event and current difficulties. Negative emotions, feelings and behaviours can be caused by unresolved earlier experiences and EMDR therapy can help you to reduce these symptoms.

When a distressing event happens, we can feel overwhelmed and the brain may be unable to process the information as it would for a "normal" event. The distressing memory then seems to become frozen so that when recalled, we can re-experience what we saw, heard, smelt, tasted or felt - as if it were happening in the present (a flashback). This is often intense and terrifying. Unlike other therapies, clients do not have to talk at length about a distressing event when using EMDR. There is also a special protocol we use that avoids the upset of revealing the details or if event details cannot be remembered.

EMDR Therapy has a three-pronged approach focusing on the past, present and future. It seeks to successfully process and resolve:

  • past events that have laid the groundwork for the present problem,
  • current situations that trigger distress, often with feelings of helplessness, panic, anger etc.
  • and thirdly, it uses what are called future templates where visualising success and confidence with future situations is installed.

There are 8 parts, or phases, to the standard practice of EMDR, integrating many of the successful elements of other therapies while using bilateral eye movements, sounds or taps to stimulate the left and right sides of the brain (this has been compared to the similar effects of Rapid Eye Movement sleep).

The stimulation appears to kick-start the brain's ability to adapt the old traumatic information (that has been frozen with all its thoughts, emotions, negatives beliefs and physical sensations experienced at the time) allowing an unfreezing to happen so that the information can start to flow with our normal memory networks, but without the distress and dysfunctional behaviours, the negative thoughts and beliefs.

Clients can then recall a traumatic time or incident without distress, it becomes safe to remember. Furthermore, clients can find an increase in positive emotions, understanding and perspectives that can lead to healthy and useful behaviours and improved relationships with self and others.

EMDR is also increasingly used to treat complaints which are not necessarily trauma-related, such as

  • panic disorder
  • phobias
  • unresolved grief
  • performance anxiety
  • self-esteem issues
  • other anxiety-related disorders.

Please contact me if you have any questions about EMDR. Our professional body can be found here http://www.emdrassociation.org.uk/home/index.htm





Accredited Psychotherapist | Counsellor | Supervisor
and Europe Accredited EMDR Practitioner

Horsham | Sussex

m: 07732 532 891