Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing for Single Trauma Only (EMDR)

What is Single Trauma?

This can be any major or minor event which has disturbed you and ‘stayed with you’ such as a traumatic child birth, floods, an assault, a death, abortion, an accident, incident, rape, house fire, or robbery etc.

What is EMDR?

EMDR enables clients to heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma.   My role is to help and monitor this transition as it happens.  I will work with great respect for your safety and you will have my unconditional acceptance.  We work as a team.

When trauma occurs, it appears to get locked in the nervous system.  A variety of reminders in current life trigger this trauma causing feelings of helplessness, fear, worthlessness and so on and this will continue until the trauma is processed properly by the brain.  EMDR therapy is an eight-phase treatment which has a complex therapeutic approach, drawing upon Psychodynamic, CBT, experiential, physiological and interactional therapies.   Eye movements are used during one part of the session which appear to allow the traumatic information to be unlocked and processed.  EMDR unlocks the nervous system and allows you to process the experience and any unconscious material.  You are in control at all times and it is you that’s doing the healing.

You will be processing the trauma from a safe distance as if you are on a train and the scenery is passing you by.  Nothing negative is put in, instead it’s being let out.  There is no need to share memories in detail or do homework which is used in other therapies.  The processing will take place very rapidly and this is a hallmark of the EMDR treatment.

EMDR Clients conclude this therapy feeling empowered.

Is there evidence that EMDR works?

The Department of Health (2001) has listed EMDR as an effective treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder due to the strength of evidence.

Twenty large studies have been carried out where some show that 84%-90% of single-trauma victims no longer have PTSD after only three 90 minute sessions.   Another study found that 100% single trauma victims and 77% of multiple trauma victims no longer were diagnosed with PTSD after only six 50 minute sessions.  In another study, 77% of combat veterans were free of PTSD in 12 sessions.    A preliminary study found that EMDR reduced symptoms of guilt in combat-related PTSD (Cerone, 2000).   Organisations such as the American Psychiatric Association, the Department of Defence and the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies recognise EMDR as an effective treatment of trauma.

Phobias or disorders which are linked to a traumatic experience, anxiety, Body Dysmorphic Disorder or Phantom Limb Pain have also been found to benefit from EMDR.

Does it last?

Of the twelve Studies which monitored the outcome for PTSD treatment, eight of the nine studies for civilians showed that effects were maintained at periods of 3, 4, 9, 15 months and 5 years after treatment.    Of the three studies with combat veterans only one (Carolson et al, 1998) provided a full course of treatment which showed that treatment effects were maintained at 9 months. The other two studies found that limited treatment may be inadequate to fully treat the disorder.  This highlights the importance of finishing the course of treatment.

How many Sessions will it take?

It depends upon the problem and client history but single trauma can be processed within 3 sessions in 80-90% of clients.

Is EMDR the same as hypnosis.. what are the differences/similarities?

EMDR is a unique treatment method but can be incorporated with hypnosis.  The differences are that EMDR requires no induction into an altered state of relaxation.  When beginning EMDR relaxation is not typically attempted, deliberate attempts are made to connect with the anxious mental state.

Hypnosis also differs as it requires a single focused state whereas EMDR works on a duality of focus.

Another difference is that Hypnosis  works with the imagination which decreases reality whereas EMDR grounds the client in the present by referencing current feelings and body sensations to prevent the client from drifting away from reality.

During treatment will I live the trauma as intensely as before?

Some are conscious of only a shadow of the experience, while others feel it to a greater degree.  Unlike other therapies, EMDR clients are not asked to relive the trauma intensely and for prolonged periods of time.  In EMDR, when there is a high level of intensity it only lasts for a few moments and then decreases rapidly.  I have been trained in techniques that will help you.  You will be trained in techniques to immediately relieve any distress you feel.


What can I expect? i.e. what should/could happen?

Each client is an individual, but we follow a standard eight phase approach within that.  A complete history is taken first, preparing you, identifying target memories, actively processing the past, present and future components.   Processing includes the use of eye movements or taps while you concentrate on the memory.  After each set of movements, the client uses techniques you’ve been taught to enable you to leave the session feeling in control and empowered.  At the end of EMDR therapy, previously disturbing memories should no longer be problematic, and new healthy responses should be the norm.   If you’re interested in reading further see “EMDR The Breakthrough Therapy for Overcoming Anxiety, Stress and Trauma” by Shapiro and Forrest.


Our life is what our thoughts make it.

Marcus Aurelius