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Image by Victor Freitas


EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) is used to treat psychological trauma ranging from single incident events (such as a traffic accidents, physical assault) through to multiple or complex events (such as birth trauma, childhood sexual and/or physical abuse or neglect, natural disaster, institutional events).  


What is trauma:

Trauma is not held in the event you experienced, but in your emotional response to living through (or coping with) the event like and accident, rape, work-related physical injury. However, complex trauma is ongoing, or repeated frequently, so there is little time to recover.  


What is EMDR:

EMDR uses left-right stimulation of the brain to replicate the processing that happens through REM sleep. Left-right stimulation (or bi-lateral stimulation) helps the brain to process frozen or blocked information.  It’s a bit like helping the brain to put the jigsaw pieces of the memory together.

Bi-lateral stimulation is primarily achieved through hand movements but a light bar, tapping or sounds can also be used.  Through this process the traumatic memories should become less intense, less distressing and feel like ordinary memories – they may still hold emotion but they don’t have the power to incapacitate you.

Prior to working on specific memories, you will be asked to share your history (this is important to understand your building blocks for coping with distress) and work on strategies for coping with distressing memories so that you are resourced and equipped.  

What is the outcome:

Following a series of EMDR sessions, the hope is that you will feel less distress around the memories or incidents, that your day to day life will no longer be impacted by them, and that you will feel equipped to cope if the memory was to resurface in the future.

Always work with a therapist who holds an accredited EMDR qualification – in Northern Ireland this will be through EMDR Ireland or EMDR UK


Further information on EMDR:

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