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Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing

Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is used within NHS Doncaster Talking Therapies to treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a range of other common difficulties.

EMDR is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) as a treatment for people with PTSD. It’s an ‘evidence-based’ therapy, which means that research has shown that this kind of therapy works.

How does it work?

Sometimes when we experience a traumatic event, we start to feel overwhelmed. When this happens, memories of the event may not be processed in the usual way and can leave us with difficult emotions or thoughts.

Often when we are in similar situations to the traumatic event, memories can be triggered, and we may re-experience similar levels of distress.

The aim of EMDR is to allow us to begin to process the traumatic event in a natural way. The distressing memory gradually loses its intensity to then become a memory which does not trigger overwhelming emotions or thoughts.

What does EMDR involve?

Your therapist will help you to safely focus on the traumatic event whilst you make side-to-side eye movements, usually by following the movement of your therapist’s finger. EMDR sessions may also use devices such as moving lights or alternating sounds.

EMDR can be a powerful and sometimes rapid treatment. You do not have to describe the traumatic event in detail and there is no homework outside of the treatment sessions.

Although you may experience distressing feelings during the sessions, you will still be in control and awake during the sessions.

How long will my treatment take?

EMDR sessions are weekly and typically last between 60 and 90 minutes. The number of sessions needed will depend on the specific person and an agreed length of treatment will be planned, often around 12 sessions.

EMDR: Paul’s story

Paul is a former NHS Doncaster Talking Therapies patient who recovered with the help of EMDR.

Please note, this video was filmed before we changed our name from Doncaster IAPT to NHS Doncaster Talking Therapies.