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What is EMDR?

EMDR is the acronym for 'Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing'. EMDR is a powerful psychological treatment method that was developed by an American clinical psychologist, Dr Francine Shapiro, in the 1980s.

EMDR uses the natural healing ability of your body.  Most of the time your body manages new experiences without you being aware of it. However, when something unusual happens and a person is traumatised by it (e.g. a car accident) or the person is subjected to repeated trauma (e.g. neglect, abuse) the body’s natural coping mechanism can become overloaded.  This can mean that the memories and feelings associated with the event(s) can remain unprocessed.  The trauma seems to get locked in the nervous system with the original picture, sounds, thoughts and feelings.

Sometimes the memory of the event is forgotten but the painful feelings can still be triggered in the present.  As a result the person can experience anxiety, panic, anger and low mood.

EMDR seems to unlock the nervous system and allow the brain to process the experiences. It helps to restore normal ways of dealing with problems. Following successful EMDR treatment memories of the event are no longer painful when brought to mind.  The person learns what is necessary and useful from the disturbing past experience and the event is stored in the memory in a healthy and non-distressing form.

At Symmetry Counselling, I use EMDR for the treatment of:

     •         Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

     •         Stress caused by distressing events e.g. accident, assault, abuse and many other distressing events which impact upon your sense of well-being.

     •         Anxiety

     •         Panic attacks

     •         Depression and low mood

     •         Stress

     •         Phobias

     •         Low self-esteem and lack of self-confidence

     •         Performance anxiety e.g. presentations, auditions, exams

     •         Grief or loss

     •         Pain relief

EMDR is not a form of hypnosis. Most people experience it as a natural and very empowering therapy. Below is a testimonial from a former client. There are other testimonials on Therapy. You will find these if you click on the individual areas that therapy can help you deal with.

EMDR Handout  -   This handout can be printed out for your reference.

EMDR meets NICE’s clinical guidelines for the treatment of PTSD.


“Having recently experienced a course of EMDR with Sarah’s help, I’m very keen to share the benefits of both EMDR and high quality counselling. Not only an enlightening personal experience, EMDR proved to be a very effective, practical and fast-working technique which had me back on my feet again in no time. Sarah’s professional ability to educate, choose the right approach and expertly practise EMDR for me played a huge part in this; a fine combination, thank you”.

Male (aged 47)