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Sea Grass

Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR)

Here is a video from the EMDR association, please watch to find out more.

About EMDR

Trauma is a wound held deep in the nervous system
EMDR is an acronym for Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing, an innovative clinical treatment originated and developed by Dr Francine Shapiro in 1987. It is a psychotherapy that facilitates self-healing from the emotional distress that arises due to disturbing life experiences and traumatic events. These events can lead to symptoms such as flashbacks, dreams/nightmares, intrusive thoughts and images, depression, and anxiety. Often traumatic experiences can be managed and resolved spontaneously, but some get frozen on a neurological level. Stress responses are part of our natural fight, flight, or freeze instincts. When distress from the disturbing event remains, the upsetting images, thoughts, smells, and emotions may create overwhelming distress, feelings of being back in that moment, or being stuck at the time of the event.

EMDR therapy helps the brain process these traumatic memories and allows normal healing to resume using the natural adaptive information processing system inherent in our brains. It leads to the experience being remembered, but without the distressing emotions transforming to a normal memory, one which has a start middle and end and belongs to/in the past.  


Andrew Leeds (Phd) explains in this video the two main hypothesis, that of rapid eye movement (REM) hypothesis and working memory theory hypothesis underpinning how EMDR works:    


EMDR has a growing body of robust evidence. EMDR is highly recommended by the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS), National Institute for health and Care Excellence (NICE) and World Health Organization (WHO) as a powerful psychotherapeutic treatment approach for adults and children living with the traumatic aftermath of adverse life experiences. It is proven effective for those who have experienced:

  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) arising from natural disasters, sexual assault/abuse, experiences of war, road traffic accidents, medical trauma.

  • Complex PTSD arising from multiple childhood trauma and developmental trauma.

  • Traumatic grief and bereavement

  • Childhood adversity including bullying.

  • Depression arising from life events.

  • Anxiety related difficulties including social anxiety and arising from life experiences.

  • Low self-esteem and self-confidence issues including negative/self-critical beliefs.

  • Sleep disturbance, dreams, and nightmares

  • Phobias

  • Performance anxiety and panic

  • Voice hearing experiences and psychosis

  • Pain


About Internal Family Systems

Internal Family Systems (IFS) method is a way to understand your internal system and help it to transform and heal. IFS is based on the principle that there is an undamaged, resourceful self at the core of every person and that accessing and working with that self is a safe, effective way to heal other, hurt parts of the mind. These parts communicate and relate to each other as if they were an internal family—hence the name ‘Internal Family Systems’.


I offer IFS informed EMDR given it integrates wonderfully with EMDR rather than IFS as a standalone therapy treatment. 

IFS believes according to the IFS Institute:

  • It is the nature of the mind to be subdivided into an indeterminate number of subpersonalities or parts.

  • Everyone has a Self, and the Self can and should lead the individual's internal system.

  • The non-extreme intention of each part is something positive for the individual. There are no "bad" parts, and the goal of therapy is not to eliminate parts but instead to help them find their non-extreme roles.

  • As we develop, our parts develop and form a complex system of interactions among themselves; therefore, systems theory can be applied to the internal system. When the system is reorganized, parts can change rapidly.

  • Changes in the internal system will affect changes in the external system and vice versa. The implication of this assumption is that both the internal and external levels of system should be assessed.

The aim of IFS: 

  • To achieve balance and harmony within the internal system

  • To differentiate and elevate the Self so it can be an effective leader in the system

  • When the Self is in the lead, the parts will provide input to the Self but will respect the leadership and ultimate decision making of the Self.

  • Recognition that all parts have a positive intention

Founder Dick Schwartz talks about what internal family systems is:


  • Subpersonalities are aspects of our personality that interact internally in sequences and styles that are similar to the ways in which people interact.

  • Parts may be experienced in any number of ways -- thoughts, feelings, sensations, images, and more.

  • All parts want something positive for the individual and will use a variety of strategies to gain influence within the internal system.

  • Parts develop a complex system of interactions among themselves. Polarizations develop as parts try to gain influence within the system.

  • While experiences affect parts, parts are not created by the experiences. They are always in existence, either as potential or actuality.

  • Parts that become extreme are carrying "burdens" -- energies that are not inherent in the function of the part and don't belong to the nature of the part, such as extreme beliefs, emotions, or fantasies. Parts can be helped to "unburden" and return to their natural balance.

  • Parts that have lost trust in the leadership of the Self will "blend" with or take over the Self.




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EMDR is a structured approach involving 8 phases:

  • Learning about where your current problems came from and what from your past is still affecting you now. 

  • Recognizing your current resources of emotional management and helping you develop further emotional regulation tools including grounding strategies. 

  • Identifying the specific memories that are causing you the most distress and galvanize all the essential components of a memory including image, negative belief and emotions. 

  • Desensitization, this phase involves working directly in the memory network and the associated negative material using eye movements (why eyes: as well as  other forms of bi lateral stimulation to reprocess.

  • We install and embed a positive or preferred belief about yourself.

  • Checking the body is clear of the trauma, this identifies any sensations or tensions that something still may be stuck.

  • Ensuring safety when the session is finished by using your resources. 

  • Monitoring of memories and symptoms as we go along. 

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