Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)

Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)

Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing EMDR Adelaide

What is EMDR?

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing. The goals of this therapy are to desensitise or remove intrusive emotions and to resolve memories of traumatic events. Eye movement is one distinctive part of the treatment protocol. Research has shown EMDR to be effective as treatment for the symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Acute Stress Disorder (ASD).  

EMDR is based on the assumption that, during a traumatic event, overwhelming emotions lead to the experience being stored in an ‘unprocessed’ way and as such these emotions are not resolved. Individuals report that these memories are fresh. Often there is the comment – “I remember it as if it was yesterday.” The memories are emotional, causing the re-experiencing of the trauma emotion. A more detailed explanation is available from the EMDR Institute website.

In EMDR, the person is asked to focus on trauma-related imagery, negative thoughts, emotions, and body sensations while simultaneously moving their eyes back and forth following the movement of the therapist’s fingers across their field of vision for 20–30 seconds or more. This process may be repeated many times. Over time, EMDR has increasingly included more treatment components that are comparable to Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) interventions including cognitive interweaving (analogous to cognitive therapy), imaginal templating (rehearsal of mastery or coping responses to anticipated stressors), and standard in vivo exposure.

It is not necessary to understand fully the theory that is behind EMDR. It is a therapy that calls more for participation than understanding the theory. The psychologist who does EMDR at Westbourne Park Psychology is Jo England. She will need to fully assess you and your circumstances before discussing the use of EMDR with you. You would be very unlikely to do eye movement treatment at an early stage. EMDR is a powerful change strategy that comes more towards the end of therapy, after the therapist has come to know you quite well. There are many things happening in an EMDR session, in addition to the eye movement. Commentators have been drawn to the eye movement aspect of the therapy, but it is just one part of a whole approach. One attractive part of the therapy is that it helps you to return to being more like yourself, more free of the impact of a trauma. So whilst eye movement sounds bizarre, perhaps because of this it has attracted a lot of research as to its effectiveness.


Trauma and EMDR

The Australian guidelines for the treatment of PTSD and ASD  gives the following edited recommendations to GPs:

Adults with PTSD should be offered trauma-focused psychological interventions (trauma-focused Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) or Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR), as the first line treatment, before even the prescription of medication. This is as resounding endorsement of EMDR as a treatment intervention.


What is a Trauma?

During a trauma, the individual’s ability to fully accept what has happened to them fails. The ability to cope is overwhelmed by these events.

These events can involve assault, involvement in a car accident, sexual assault, or experiencing a fire event. Any near death experience for you or your loved ones is likely to be traumatic. The vast majority of people do recover from being in a trauma, however a minority go on to experience long-term symptoms.



Good social and practical support from families, friends and communities is the most important way to help those involved in disasters in the first instance. It is normal to experience distressing symptoms after a trauma, but if symptoms of trauma persist, or if guidance for managing symptoms is required, seek help. Full recovery from trauma symptoms is possible.


Jo England – EMDR in Adelaide

Jo England works gently with trauma in all its forms, and has experience working with not only people suffering from acute traumatic episodes, but also with people and children who experience chronic levels of trauma from an early age. This may take the form of moderate to longer-term therapy. Jo works with your GP, Psychiatrist or Paediatrician very closely. She also uses EMDR therapy for managing pain, and for helping decrease the cravings for unhealthy eating. This can help with managing diabetes and other health-related problems.

If you would like to book in with Jo England, please feel free to request an appointment. If you have some questions, you could also contact us by phone on (08) 8272 7885 or via email at admin@westbourneparkpsychology.com.au