What is EMDR?

Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) is the main treatment I use now. It is a body focused therapy which means we are never far away from talking and thinking about the body. This is important when a person’s main concern is their physical symptoms. Feeling safe is the start point in EMDR – preparing the body to feel safe again after frightening illness or experiences. A therapist can help you get started but this can be surprisingly easy – why not try this exercise at home?

Imagine a place where you have felt safe or you can invent one. In this imagination notice what you can see, hear, smell, taste and feel. In as much detail as you can. Write all these things down and then record yourself reading them out. Sitting relaxed, now listen to your recording and imagine yourself there. Notice what happens to your body when you do this. This shows how body focused therapy works. By guiding us to recreate safety in the body. Only once safety is established in therapy, do we go forward.

In EMDR the therapist carefully explores some of the body responses the person has, by asking about them. The therapist then helps the person process these using imagination and eye movements. Managing any waves of emotion that come is a bit like riding a wave in the sea – if you feel safe you can enjoy the process of getting over the top of it. And then the waves are no longer frightening and the body settles down. With treatment the body stops fearing whatever it has been afraid of and starts to feel safe instead. With that, comes much calmer physiology and fewer symptoms.