EMDR Therapy - Dr Sarah Whitaker And Dr Carly Samson
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EMDR – Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing

EMDR - Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) is a type of therapy that aims to help people recover from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which can include anxiety, flashbacks, upsetting thoughts or images and depression. EMDR can also help with things like phobias, complicated grief and chronic pain.


How does EMDR work?


When someone experiences a trauma, their brain may become overwhelmed and struggle to fully process this. The memory can get laid down in a fragmented way, missing crucial information, such as a date and time stamp. This can mean that the person can vividly re-experience what they saw, heard, smelt, felt as a flashback: The trauma feels like it’s “here and now” rather than “then and there”.


EMDR works to help the person build skills to allow them to gently turn towards the memory, without overwhelming the brain. This can help the brain to reprocess it more fully, giving it that important date and time stamp. It can also help the person manage the emotional impact of the traumatic memory, so that it has less impact on their life in the here and now.


In addition to taking a full trauma history (as sometimes it’s important to re-process earlier traumas, especially those in childhood) EMDR therapy initially involves doing some preparatory work to help the person be able to re-process the traumatic event, whilst staying in their window of tolerance. The re-processing sessions involve recalling the traumatic memory whilst activating each side of the brain (bilateral stimulation). This is typically done by moving the eyes from side to side or gently tapping each side of the body. These sensations seem to help kick start the brain’s processing system and allow the memory to be processed more fully and reduce its emotional intensity.


There are a number of theories about why EMDR works, though the evidence for understanding the precise way is limited by our current brain scanning techniques. It is thought that the rapid eye movements or bilateral brain stimulation mimics what occurs naturally during our sleep cycle. Other research suggests that giving the brain more work to do (bilateral stimulation) whilst remembering a traumatic memory reduces the intensity of the memory and the emotional distress associated with it. 


EMDR treatment typically consists of several sessions, ideally weekly, depending on the nature of the problem you’re struggling with. In the case of a single trauma, sustained in adulthood, there is likely to be 1 or 2 assessment sessions, followed by 1 or 2 sessions discussing and preparing for EMDR treatment, and at least 1 or 2 treatment sessions. In the case of complex trauma, especially from childhood, this is likely to involve additional sessions at each stage.


EMDR is recognised by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a treatment for PTSD. EMDR is a complex therapeutic process that should always be delivered by properly trained therapists. 


The Psychology Company can now offer EMDR therapy by trained psychologists who are members of the EMDR Association. Please do make an enquiry if you would like further information or would like to discuss your specific needs.

01483 363 058

Start your journey with us today…

Psychologists offering EMDR

Dr Sarah Whitaker

Dr Sarah Whitaker


Dr Sarah Whitaker is a Senior Clinical Psychologist working from the Petersfield clinic. Dr Whitaker specialises in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) Mindfulness and EMDR - (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing). Dr Whitaker provides online therapy if preferred.


Dr Carly Samson


Dr Carly Samson is a Clinical Psychologist working from the Haslemere clinic and also offers online therapy. Dr Samson specialises in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Compassion Focused Therapy and EMDR - (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing).

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