Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a new therapy producing some good results for those experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). There is less talking involved than in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT).

It’s more of a physical treatment, but only for your eyes. You are asked to follow the therapist’s fingers as they move them from side to side in various directions.

When you start, you are asked to visualise a scene that’s affecting you and think about how it makes you feel. You remember your image, follow the fingers with nothing but eye movements and then report to the therapist anything you can notice.

Thoughts, physical sensations, pain or even smells.

Anything you have become aware of, you tell them.

It’s been described as having one foot in the past and one in the present. Any lingering trauma will surface and make itself known.  It works on the theory that when someone has suffered a trauma, the brain may not properly process the events. This is especially likely if you have had a cardiac arrest and there was no brain activity happening for a period of time. When a person dies, their consciousness ceases instantly, but the body shuts down more slowly.

Following fingers with your eyes creates an eye movement called bilateral stimulation. It is the same rapid eye movement your eyes make when asleep in the REM processing stage. Therefore the movement is the link to making your memory process properly.

When the negative memory or thought channel is processed to the point the memory of it no longer hurts you in any way, then you can safely say it’s processed and finished. Then you move on with any other images that are causing trouble to you in the same way.


EMDR is one of the therapies available on the NHS for PTSD, and you can find more about it and the organisation on their website.

EMDR Association UK

Personal Experience

One of our members has written about their own EMDR therapy and you can read about their experience by following the links below…

Part 1 – My EMDR experience

Part 2 – My EMDR conclusion

Part 3 – EMDR, one year on

Further Reading

EMDR for Survivors of Life-Threatening Cardiac Events: Results of a Pilot Study

Using eye movement therapy to reduce trauma after intensive care

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