What is EMDR therapy?

Published 19 April, 2024

EMDR (which stands for eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing) is a form of psychotherapy used to help healing and recovery from the emotional distress caused by traumatic life experiences. Similar to the way in which a physical wound mends over time, EMDR therapy enables the mind to heal from psychological trauma. In essence, a clinician trained in EMDR will help their patients to activate the mind’s natural healing process.

Whilst commonly used as a therapeutic intervention for mental health conditions such as PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), EMDR is now being used for a far wider variety of situations, such as pain management and phobias (Sukanya B. Menon and C. Jayan: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing: A Conceptual Framework).

This form of therapy takes patients through eight-phases:

Phase 1: History and treatment planning

  • Talking about the trauma and identifying specific memories to treat

Phase 2: Preparation

  • Learning different coping mechanisms for psychological stress

Phase 3: Assessment

  • Targeting the specific memories and any linked elements such as physical sensations which are triggered

Phases 4-7: Treatment

  • Using EMDR techniques involves focusing on negative or traumatic experiences while a therapist asks the patient to carry out specific eye movements. Eye movements, or other bilateral stimulation, mimics Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep – this is the deepest stage of sleep and it is in this stage that cognitive processing occurs
  • If at any point, the exercises become too distressing, the therapist will guide their patient back to the present. Over time, distress will likely fade

Phase 8: Evaluation

  • This final phase is where both the patient and therapist evaluate the progress made throughout the treatment sessions

Does Xyla offer EMDR?

At Xyla, we offer flexible online EMDR treatment which you can access from the comfort of your own home. Our sessions are available 7 days a week, booked in at a time that suits you; we offer sessions between 7am – 11pm. To access EMDR with us, you need to be referred from your local IAPT service. You can find your local service by clicking here.

Please note, neither this form of therapy nor our service is designed for emergencies. If you need urgent help or you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, you can access emergency support here.

Share this article

Contact us

Have any questions about our services? Whether you’re wondering about how we can help your health goals, or assist your healthcare organisation, we’d love to hear from you.

Get in touch

Xyla is a trading name of ICS Operations Ltd (Registered No 4793945), Pulse Healthcare Limited (Registered No 3156103), Carehome Selection Limited (Registered No 3091598), Independent Clinical Services Limited (Registered No 4768329) and CHS Healthcare Software Limited (Registered No 11582111)