Could You Benefit From EMDR?

Eye Movement Desensitization and ReprocessingThe chances are you won’t have heard of EMDR, but it's used to treat PTSD

Many people think of PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, as being something that troops coming back from war may have but PTSD can occur with any upsetting event in our life that disrupts our brain and the way it makes memories. PTSD is a well-known mental health condition. A wide range of trauma or traumatic events can cause PTSD and include any situation that a person finds traumatic such as an accident, assault, an illness or operation or even childbirth.

A couple of beneficiaries have had really positive experiences from undergoing EMDR therapy for traumatic childhood experiences so we thought it was useful to discuss what is here.

You can also watch the video of the Trauma webinar where Bonita Ackerman du Preez, trauma specialist, discusses trauma and treatments.

What symptoms does Post Traumatic Stress Disorder cause?

PTSD can cause symptoms like nightmares, flashbacks and symptoms of anxiety and sensitivity to loud noises. A flashback is a vivid experience in which you relive some aspects of a traumatic event or feel as if it is happening right now.

PTSD means we can’t move on from traumatic events that have occurred and we can be continually be plagued by replaying past events by repeatedly seeing images or hearing sounds from that time.

Why is this relevant for beneficiaries?

We know some of you may have PSTD after difficult or traumatic childhood experiences, or after encounters with medical professionals growing up. In addition, we know that getting the right help can be difficult and PTSD can make day-to-day living a challenge.

We also know that some of you may have social anxiety-fear of leaving the house with worries about being stared at or people making hurtful comments and EMDR may be helpful for this too.

How is PTSD treated?

PTSD is generally treated with either medication or therapy.

If your GP thinks you have PTSD they may refer you to local NHS psychological services.

Psychological services can include;

Trauma focused CBT - Cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT, is a type of therapy that aims to challenge the negative beliefs or way of thinking you may have fallen into.

You'll usually have 8 to 12 weekly sessions of trauma-focused CBT, although fewer may be needed. Sessions usually last for around 60 to 90 minutes.

Group therapy - it may be helpful for you to hear and share your PTSD experiences.


Watch the Trust Trauma and PTSD webinar by Bonita Ackerman du Preez, trauma specialist


EMDR - Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing

This is a much newer therapy but can be very helpful in the treatment of PTSD and in the treatment of anxiety conditions and phobias.

So, what is EMDR?

EMDR is quite a new treatment. It’s recommended as a treatment for PTSD by NICE, a Government organisation that judges how beneficial treatments are.

EMDR eye movementEMDR may sound a bit strange, but it involves making eye movements from side to side while the therapist you are seeing asks you to recall memories of the events you find distressing, whilst in a safe environment. Other therapists may also tap on your hands alternately.  These side-to-side sensations and movements seem to be able to “unstick” the “stuck” processing system in the brain so that it can reprocess the information more like an ordinary memory, reducing the strength of the distressing or upsetting memory.

There is another theory that by giving the brain something else to do while you’re thinking about the distressing time, it makes the remembered memory less vivid and intense.

Studies have shown it can be very effective for treating PTSD that may have been hard to treat with other therapies.

Do I have to do EMDR face to face?

No, you can now do EMDR therapy online. This may be helpful if you have social anxiety about leaving the house or are find travelling to new places difficult. You can have EMDR therapy through Zoom or Skype.

Do I need a GP to refer me for EMDR?

No. You may not feel comfortable going to your GP so you can self-refer to a private therapist who will assess you and decide if EMDR therapy would help.

Can I have EMDR for other conditions?

Yes, EMDR is an approved treatment for trauma and PTSD, but it can also used for other conditions such phobias, anxiety and depression.

Some beneficiaries may be concerned that their symptoms aren’t “severe” enough to warrant seeing a therapist, but as a rule of thumb, if your symptoms are affecting or interfering with your life on a day-to-day basis e.g. causing issues with sleep, preventing you from going out, taking part in social activities or affecting your mood, then seeking help from a professional is a good idea.


Contact Us

If you feel you may have symptoms of PTSD and want to chat this through, please contact Dee or Susan, the Medical Advisers at the Trust on 01480 474074.