Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy at Thornford Park

Thornford Park hospital offers low and medium services providing high quality, individualised care, treatment and rehabilitation for men aged 18+ who are detained under the Mental Health Act (1983). Patients may have histories of offending and/or may have failed in previous placements.

What is EMDR?

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences.  Repeated studies show that by using EMDR therapy people can experience the benefits of psychotherapy that once took years to make a difference. It is widely assumed that severe emotional pain requires a long time to heal.  EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma as much as the body recovers from physical trauma.

EMDR is a complex and powerful therapy. Therapists always have a background in mental health before undertaking accredited EMDR therapy training.

What are the Benefits?

Since EMDR therapy’s emergence in the 1980’s, a wealth of research has been conducted demonstrating its benefits in treating psychological trauma arising from experiences as diverse as war related experiences, childhood sexual and/or physical abuse or neglect, natural disaster, assault, surgical trauma, road traffic accidents and workplace accidents.

Since its original development, EMDR is also increasingly used to help individuals with an increasingly broad range of difficulties including anxiety, depression, anger, complex trauma, attachment difficulties and hearing voices. More recently EMDR has been successfully used to treat addictions, personality difficulties, as well as supporting the treatment of individuals who have presented with sexually offending behaviors.

As a natural outcome of the EMDR therapeutic process, the clients’ thoughts, feelings and behavior are all robust indicators of emotional health and resolution—all without speaking in detail or doing homework used in other therapies. EMDR therapy has also been found to be as effective as CBT and exposure based therapies for treating certain difficulties and sometimes in a shorter time frame.

What does the therapy involve?

EMDR therapy is an eight-phase treatment, which draws on a broad range of therapeutic approaches. However, the element which is unique to EMDR therapy is the use of eye movements (or other bilateral stimulation). After the clinician has determined which memory to target first, the client is asked to hold different aspects of that event or thought in mind and to use his eyes to track the therapist’s hand as it moves back and forth across the client’s field of vision. As this happens, for reasons believed by a Harvard researcher to be connected with the biological mechanisms involved in Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, internal associations arise and the clients begin to process the memory and disturbing feelings. In successful EMDR therapy, the meaning of painful events is transformed on an emotional level reducing associated distress. For instance, a rape victim shifts from feeling horror and self-disgust to holding the firm belief that “I survived it and I am strong”.

Unlike talking therapy, the insights clients gain in EMDR therapy result not so much from clinician interpretation, but from the client’s own accelerated intellectual and emotional processes. The net effect is that clients conclude EMDR therapy feeling empowered by the very experiences that had caused them so much pain. Their wounds have not just closed, they have transformed. EMDR therapy is based on the belief that we all have the ability to heal.

Learn more about EMDR here.