Donna Morgan Counselling, Shere Lane, Guildford, England, GU5, United Kingdom

BlogWhat is EMDR therapy?

What is EMDR therapy?

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) is a therapeutic approach that is used to treat symptoms of trauma, anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions. Traumatic memories are stored in the brain differently to other memories and these memories can interfere with a someone’s present-day functioning.

The goal of EMDR therapy is to help the brain process these memories so that they no longer have a negative impact on a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviour. During an EMDR session, a therapist guides the client through a series of eye movements or other bilateral stimulation exercises, which are thought to stimulate the brain’s information processing system and allow the client to process traumatic memories.

Is that what some people call ‘Tapping therapy’?

Yes, “tapping therapy” is another term that is sometimes used to refer to EMDR. In EMDR, bilateral stimulation is often achieved by the client following the therapist’s fingers as they move back and forth in front of the client’s face. This can look like “tapping” and is sometimes referred to as such. However, bilateral stimulation in EMDR can also be achieved through other methods, such as auditory stimulation (e.g., alternating sounds in each ear), or vibrating devices placed on the body. The goal of bilateral stimulation is to activate both hemispheres of the brain, which is thought to help process and integrate traumatic memories.


How will it help me with my anxiety?

EMDR therapy can help reduce anxiety by addressing the root cause of the anxiety, which may be unprocessed traumatic memories. During EMDR therapy, the individual will revisit the traumatic memories and process them with the help of bilateral stimulation, allowing for the memories to be integrated into the person’s understanding of the event. This integration can lead to a reduction in the emotional distress and physical symptoms associated with the traumatic memory, resulting in reduced anxiety. Additionally, EMDR can also help individuals develop healthier coping strategies and increase self-awareness, leading to a reduction in anxiety in response to current stressors.


Has the Duke of Sussex used ‘Tapping’ EMDR Therapy?

Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, has spoken publicly about the benefits of EMDR therapy for his own mental health. He has credited the therapy with helping him process and overcome some of the traumatic experiences he faced during his time as a military officer as a high-profile member of the royal family. Prince Harry’s advocacy for EMDR and mental health has helped raise awareness about the therapy and the importance of addressing mental health concerns.


What would I expect to happen during my therapy session?

During an EMDR therapy session, you can expect the following steps to occur:


    1. History Taking: The therapist will gather information about your background and the specific traumatic events or memories that you would like to address in therapy.
    2. Assessment: The therapist will assess your level of distress related to the traumatic memory and determine if EMDR therapy is appropriate for you.
    3. Preparation: The therapist will explain the EMDR therapy process and help you develop coping strategies to manage any distress that may arise during the session.
    4. Desensitisation: The therapist will guide you through the traumatic memory while you focus on the bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements, tapping, or auditory tones. This process helps to reprocess the traumatic memory and reduce the emotional distress associated with it.
    5. Installation: The therapist will help you focus on positive thoughts and feelings, allowing you to reinforce a sense of safety and stability.
    6. Body Scan: The therapist will guide you through a body scan to help you identify and release any residual physical sensations related to the traumatic memory.
    7. Closure: The therapist will help you develop coping strategies and provide support as needed to help you manage any distress that may arise after the session.


Overall, the goal of each session is to help you process the traumatic memory, reduce the associated distress, and increase your overall well-being.


Can I have EMDR alongside other therapies?

Yes, you can have EMDR alongside other therapies. In fact, many individuals find that combining EMDR with other forms of therapy can be especially helpful in treating complex mental health conditions.

For example, EMDR can be combined with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or other evidence-based therapies to address both traumatic experiences and the thought patterns and behaviours that are associated with them.

It’s important to discuss all of the treatments you are receiving with your mental health professional to ensure that they are complementary and will not interfere with one another. Your mental health professional can help you determine the best treatment plan for your individual needs.

What are the results for people receiving EMDR therapy

EMDR therapy has shown promising results in the treatment of a variety of mental health conditions, including anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and phobias. Research has found that EMDR therapy can lead to significant reductions in symptoms and improvements in overall functioning.

Studies have found that EMDR therapy is effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety and PTSD, including intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, and nightmares. In some cases, EMDR therapy has been found to be more effective than traditional forms of therapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), in treating PTSD.

Overall, the results of EMDR therapy have been positive, with many individuals reporting a reduction in symptoms and an improvement in their overall quality of life.


What issues will EMDR help with?

EMDR has been shown to be effective in treating a variety of mental health conditions, including:


    • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): EMDR has been designated as an effective treatment for PTSD by numerous national and international health organisations.
    • Anxiety Disorders: EMDR can help reduce symptoms of anxiety, such as panic attacks, phobias, and generalised anxiety disorder.
    • Depression: EMDR may be used to address the underlying traumatic events that contribute to depression and help improve mood.
    • Other Trauma-related Issues: EMDR can be used to treat other trauma-related problems, such as guilt, shame, and self-blame.
    • Performance Anxiety: EMDR may help reduce performance anxiety and improve confidence in sports, public speaking, and other performance-related activities.



Does EMDR help with exam stress or dealing with a stressful event?

EMDR can help with exam stress and anxiety related to a stressful environment. By addressing and processing past traumatic experiences that may be contributing to present-day anxiety and stress, EMDR therapy can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and improve overall well-being.

In some cases, EMDR can be used to address specific performance-related anxiety, such as test-taking anxiety or stage fright. The therapy can help reduce performance anxiety and improve confidence in situations where stress and anxiety are present.


What is the scientific data on EMDR?

EMDR has been the subject of extensive research and has been found to be effective in treating a variety of mental health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorders, depression, and more.

Numerous studies have demonstrated the efficacy of EMDR therapy in reducing symptoms of PTSD, with some studies finding that EMDR is as effective as, or even more effective than, other forms of psychotherapy for treating PTSD.

For other conditions, such as anxiety and depression, the evidence for EMDR is less clear-cut, but there have been several studies that suggest EMDR may be effective in reducing symptoms.

EMDR therapy is considered a safe and effective form of treatment for many mental health conditions, and it is widely used by mental health professionals around the world.