EMDR and Trauma Therapy

What is EMDR?

EMDR is a psychotherapy approach which enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences, traumatic events and memories, which can be affectively processed with EMDR. EMDR therapy is designed to resolve distressing memories that lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression and other presenting issues. PTSD may result from a range of traumatic memories and events, such as; war, accidents, medical interventions, natural disasters, victim of crime, sexual abuse, domestic violence, family abuse, traumatic grief and loss, addictions, phobias, panic attacks, physical, emotional, psychological and mental abuse, shame, humiliation, negation, exclusion, criticism, narcissistic abuse, isolation and other distressing moments.

EMDR is a proven effective therapy that enables a person to process distressing memories and traumatic life events, enabling them to move forward in the future with healthy adaptive copying skills. EMDR changes the way the brain processes information and experiences, leading to sustainable profound change, where you are no longer reliving your past or being defined it. Proceeding EMDR treatment, past events can be remembered without any emotional charge, and the memories are no longer disturbing, triggering or distressing. It is widely assumed that severe emotional pain requires a long time to heal. EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma. The brain’s information processing system naturally moves toward mental health. If the system is blocked or imbalanced by the impact of a disturbing event, the emotional wound festers and can cause intense suffering. Once the block is removed, healing resumes.

EMDR Therapy has shown to be effective in over 25 scientific studies and numerous independent reviews as an effective and efficient psychological intervention. The eye movements in EMDR have been shown to be important in producing neurological changes in the brain which cause rapid reductions with the vividness and emotional charge of distressing memories. There has been so much research on EMDR therapy that it is now recognized as an effective form of treatment for trauma and other disturbing experiences by organizations such as the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Department of Defense. Given the worldwide recognition as an effective treatment of trauma, you can easily see how EMDR therapy would be effective in treating the “everyday” memories that are the reason people have low self-esteem, feelings of powerlessness, and all the myriad problems that bring them in for therapy.


For more information, visit https://emdraa.org/emdr-resources/

FAQ about EMDR

How does EMDR Therapy work?



After taking a history and assessing the problem you present with, your EMDR therapist will help you identify when you began experiencing symptoms and what memories are associated with your feelings. You do not have to describe in detail what happened, merely a few key components associated with the memory to avoid raising your stress levels. Once the target memories have been identified, you will be asked to bring up the memory, your thoughts and emotions associated with it. Clients will experience an uncomfortable body sensation associated with the memory such as a tight throat or tense stomach. The therapist will then begin bilateral eye movements which have been shown to be effective in helping you process the memory to a more positive resolution. At the end of the processing the memory will be more distant and often harder to recall, and you will be able to talk about it without distress. Clients report that their symptoms are reduced, they become less vividly upset, less distressed, and more positive thoughts come to mind and feel more confident in stressful situations. The event can still be recalled, but is no longer disturbing. Memories usually also become less intrusive, meaning that symptoms such as flashbacks and nightmares reduce or cease. A person’s beliefs about themselves, other people and the world also change, becoming more adaptive and realistic, thus, shifting issues that commonly occur in the aftermath of trauma such as fear, self-blame, guilt, shame, mistrust and anger. The therapy takes place during your sessions and you do not have to do “homework”. EMDR therapy focuses on the identified issues and is not a long-term “talking” therapy. The goal is to help clients gain a sense of emotional control and lead effective lives without worry.



What are the advantages of EMDR Therapy?


EMDR changes the way that the brain processes information and experiences, once an issue has been fully resolved, it is unlikely to re-emerge in the future. While EMDR therapy was originally developed for PTSD, research is continuing to support its use for a variety of psychological issues. Many psychological symptoms of anxiety, sleeplessness, substance abuse and depression are related to disturbing events such as abuse, bullying, embarrassment and feeling not in control. EMDR therapy can be tailored to process these past events to help resolve the related psychological condition. EMDR Therapy has been called an ‘accelerated emotional processing method’ because it has been has been clinically shown to produce results within a shorter time than many other traditional therapeutic approaches.

There are specific protocols for:

  • Phobias
  • Anxiety
  • Panic Attacks
  • Chronic Pain
  • Addictions
  • Nightmares
  • Overeating
  • Social Anxiety
  • Recent traumatic events

EMDR facilitates processing in a more rapid and contained way, reducing the risk of you being emotionally flooded or re-traumatised by the therapy experience.


Is there any scientific evidence supporting EMDR Therapy?


EMDR Therapy is one of the most well researched trauma treatment models. Approximately 30 randomised controlled studies have found it to be effective for the treatment of PTSD. In 2010 the Australian Psychological Society (APS) noted it as a Level 1 treatment for PTSD; the highest rating that can be applied to a specific therapeutic approach. The World Health Organisation also endorses EMDR for the treatment of PTSD.


Can You Tell Us Why EMDR Works?



Is EMDR Therapy used to just to treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?


EMDR is effective in treating a variety of clinical problems that may have resulted from disturbing life events in childhood, adolescence or adulthood. These include anxiety, phobias, depression, traumatic grief and addictions.


How many EMDR sessions will I need?
  The number of required EMDR sessions can vary, it is not a one size fits all approach and is dependent upon each person’s specific background, environment, needs, nature and complexity of a situation. Some traumatic memories may be completely resolved after a few sessions, whereas others may require 10 or more sessions. For more complex issues, such as persistent trauma, and abuse in early life, EMDR can be used effectively in conjunction with other therapeutic approaches over a longer period of time.  

Click below to view an informative video animation by the EMDR Association of Australia that explains EMDR and how it works.

Are you ready to make a change?

You are very welcome to get in touch, for any enquiries or questions you may have, or to schedule an appointment.