EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a treatment primarily for people suffering with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).


It was first developed in the late 1980s by Francine Shapiro in the US, and has been extended in recent years, with training becoming available in the UK in 1995.


EMDR is a therapeutic intervention which works within a clearly defined, and quite short, structure. It was initially developed by Shapiro as a way of the client performing eye movements at the instruction of the therapist, while holding in her (the client's) mind the traumatic event. 

It was found that when effective this quickly allowed the traumatic event to move from a currently held trauma into a more easily processed memory.


From its early days this has now developed into a fully integrated 8-stage model. EMDR has had a mixed press. In its early history it was both held as a potential 'miracle cure' and completely derided as being without scientific basis. In the last few years it has been researched into extensively, and has been shown to be at least as effective as CBT approaches, less traumatising, and with fewer potential side effects.


While it was developed primarily for use with trauma, other areas which have found some success are panic attacks, anxiety, addictions, dissociative disorders, disturbing memories, stress reduction, complicated grief, physical or sexual abuse, stage fright, public speaking, phobias, phantom limb pain and pain in general.


All of these areas are subject to on-going research, but at Sheffield Trauma Centre the main conditions treated are anxiety, PTSD, and the various types of fallout from abuse, although we may use specific protocols for attachment therapies.


In our experience people sometimes come having been told that EMDR will help with their trauma. While this is true for some trauma issues, some traumas with a longer history may require longer term therapy, or at least an extensive period of preparation before starting EMDR.

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“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"

"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"

"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully. "It's the same thing," he said.


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