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EMDR – What issues can EMDR Help With?

What issues can EMDR help with? This is a question that I am often asked. EMDR – Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing can be beneficial for several different presenting issues. It can be used in conjunction with traditional counselling and psychotherapy or on its own. To find out more about EMDR The International EMDR Association has a useful Introduction Video Here. I also have a useful blog here that can tell you more about how it works.

In this blog we will look in some depth at the issues that EMDR can help to overcome. The overarching issue is Trauma.


Many of us will experience trauma in our lives. Phoenix Australia have a useful video on YouTube that explains what trauma is and how it can affect you that you can see here.

“…an event that involves experiencing or witnessing actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence has the potential to be traumatic. Almost everyone who experiences trauma will be emotionally affected, and there are many different ways in which people will respond. Most people will recover quite quickly with the help of family and friends. For some, the effects can be long-lasting.”

A Traumatic event might include:

  • Being in an accident
  • Being Physically assaulted
  • Being involved in war, either as part of the military or as a civilian
  • Being involved in a natural disaster
  • Being sexually assaulted or abused

These events might have happened to you, you might have witnessed them, or they may have happened to someone close to you. Whilst most people will recover from a traumatic event in time, for some it might develop into Post Traumatic Distress Disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, or substance abuse.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Symptoms of PTSD may include:

  1. Re-experiencing Symptoms – e.g., flashbacks
  2. Avoidance Symptoms – e.g., avoiding places or using alcohol for instance to not think about the trauma
  3. Arousal and reactivity symptoms – e.g., being jumpy and easily startled or self-destructive reckless behaviour
  4. Cognition and Mood symptoms – e.g., Problems remembering the traumatic event or distorted thoughts about the trauma, for instance, feelings of blame and guilt

PTSDUK gives a very useful overview of what PTSD is and what characteristics need to be present to be diagnosed with it.

Why is trauma so powerful?

When something traumatic happens it often overwhelms us, what happens to us can be so different to anything we have gone through before we can start to question what is true, and whether we are safe in the world anymore. We can feel out of control of what happens to us. How we understand and relate to the world can be shattered, we can literally feel that that the rug has been pulled from beneath us and this can be very disorienting.

Non-Life-Threatening Traumas

You might also experience non-life-threatening events as traumatic, for instance:

  • Being bullied
  • Humiliated
  • Rejected
  • Abandoned
  • Invalidated
  • Unsupported
  • Trapped
  • Ashamed
  • Powerless
  • Bereavement and loss

If you have experienced life-threatening trauma or traumas or situations that are not life threatening but that have overwhelmed you and you are struggling to move on from, EMDR might be able to help you. When our brains our overwhelmed by our circumstances they don’t fully process what is going on. This can mean that the memory of an event may get “stuck” in a person’s mind this memory can stay very vivid and intense. The person feels like they are reliving the experience and the distress they felt at the time, over and over again. Its like a person has become stuck reading the same page in book over and over and they aren’t able to turn the page.

EMDR helps the person to turn the page, unstick the memory and reprocess what happened so it isn’t as intense. It also helps the person to reduce the emotional impact of the memory, so that when they do think about it the feelings are not as intense and strong.

In a session of EMDR the client will be asked to think about the traumatic thing that has happened to them. While they do this they are asked to move their eyes from side-to side, hear a sound in each ear alternately or feel a tap on each had alternately.

“These side-to-side sensations seem to effectively stimulate the “stuck” processing system in the brain so that it can reprocess the information more like an ordinary memory, reducing its intensity.”

It is thought that the effect is similar to what occurs when we are sleeping in the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stage of sleep. In this stage we move our eyes rapidly from side to side as our brain processes what happened in the day. For more information about the research that has been carried out into EMDR how it works and its effectiveness please take a look here.

How do I book a session of EMDR or Counselling with Paul Carter?

At the moment and into 2021 I will only be working online or the telephone due to COVID to find out how this works and some things to think about if you are considering Online Support, please take a read of my blog herePlease call me on 07843 813 537 or fill in the form on the Contact Page, if I don’t answer I am probably in a session, please leave me a message and I will call you back as soon as I can. I look forward to hearing from you.




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