Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing

During the course of your treatment at IPTS, you may be offered the eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) programme. This information will help you understand what EMDR is and how you can benefit from this therapy.

What is EMDR?

EMDR is an evidence-based psychotherapy that is recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

EMDR helps alleviate emotional distress that results from disturbing life experiences.

Who is EMDR for?

EMDR is a recommended treatment for individuals who experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (NICE, 2018).

EMDR can help those experiencing depression and anxiety involving a difficult life event, such as bullying, a car accident, a violent crime, abuse or the unexpected loss of a loved one.

What happens in EMDR?

EMDR uses a series of bilateral stimulation (side-to-side eye movements, hand-tapping or audio sounds in alternating ears) to reprocess and reduce the intensity of traumatic memories.

EMDR also helps desensitise the client to the emotional impact of the trauma so the client can recall these memories without feeling overwhelmed (EMDR Association UK)

How long does EMDR last for?

You will usually have 8-12 weekly sessions of EMDR, but this may vary depending on the severity of trauma. Each EMDR session typically lasts 60 minutes.

How do I know if EMDR works for me?

Scientific studies have shown that EMDR can significantly decrease PTSD symptoms and that this effect is long lasting (Chen et al., 2014).

Your progress throughout therapy will be closely monitored and recorded. This will help you and your therapist observe and compare your psychological wellbeing at different stages in treatment.

What is expected of me?

You are expected to remain actively engaged in therapy throughout the entire treatment process.
We encourage you to show a strong commitment to staying in therapy. If you decide to drop out of EMDR at any stage of assessment or treatment, it will take a minimum of six months to restart the programme.

How do I get referred for EMDR?

If you believe that you may benefit from EMDR, you can speak to your CMHT care coordinator or key worker. If both of you agree this is appropriate, a possible referral for EMDR can be discussed in the IPTS CMHT liaison meeting.

Intensive Psychological Therapies Service (IPTS)