Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR)

Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR) for PTSD and C-PTSD

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing. It is a psychotherapy treatment that has been extensively researched and proven effective to help millions of people of all ages recover from both PTSD and C-PTSD and the problems they cause, like flashbacks, upsetting thoughts or images, hypervigilance and other symptoms.

Use the links here, or the blocks below to find out more about what EMDR is, how EMDR works, the effectiveness of EMDR, what happens in an EMDR session, how many EMDR sessions you might need, things you should know before starting EMDR, EMDR for children and EMDR for C-PTSD.

What is Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing?


The goal of EMDR is to allow the person to achieve a complete state of emotional and mental health – they should be able to recall or discuss the event without having a response that results in a debilitating reaction.

How effective is EMDR?


Research has shown that EMDR can be very effective, very quickly in treating PTSD and C-PTSD. Read about some of the research that has been done in this area here .

What happens in an EMDR session?


Find out more about the different phases of EMDR treatment and how the sessions will differ as you progress.

Things to know before starting EMDR therapy


It’s important for people to go into EMDR therapy with an full understanding of what the treatment requires and entails. 

How does EMDR work?


Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a means by which you can accelerate your natural emotional healing that would otherwise take much longer. Find out more here .

EMDR in children


EMDR has the highest recommendation for Children and Adolescents with PTSD from the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies

EMDR for C-PTSD


Many studies have shown Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR) to be very effective for treating C-PTSD, but there are some additional considerations and elements. 

  • EMDR Institute

  • EMDR Association

  • Universiteit van Amsterdam (UVA). (2017, June 29). PTSD in children quickly and effectively treatable within hours. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 23, 2021 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170629085311.htm

  • Carletto Sara, Borghi Martina, Bertino Gabriella, Oliva Francesco, Cavallo Marco, Hofmann Arne, Zennaro Alessandro, Malucchi Simona, Ostacoli LucaTreating Post-traumatic Stress Disorder in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis: A Randomized Controlled Trial Comparing the Efficacy of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing and Relaxation Therapy Frontiers in Psychology VOL. 7 2016 Page 526 https://www.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00526 DOI10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00526

  • Chen L, Zhang G, Hu M, Liang X. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing versus cognitive-behavioral therapy for adult posttraumatic stress disorder: systematic review and meta-analysis. J Nerv Ment Dis. 2015 Jun;203(6):443-51. doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000000306. PMID: 25974059.

  • Chen Y-R, Hung K-W, Tsai J-C, Chu H, Chung M-H, Chen S-R, et al. (2014) Efficacy of Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing for Patients with Posttraumatic-Stress Disorder: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. PLoS ONE 9(8): e103676. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0103676

  • Bisson, J., Roberts, N.P., Andrew, M., Cooper, R. & Lewis, C. (2013).  Psychological therapies for chronic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in adults (Review). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003388.pub4

  • Bradley, R., Greene, J., Russ, E., Dutra, L., & Westen, D. (2005).A multidimensional meta-analysis of psychotherapy for PTSD.  American Journal of Psychiatry, 162, 214-227.

  • Lee, C.W., & Cuijpers, P. (2013).  A meta-analysis of the contribution of eye movements in processing emotional memories. Journal of Behavior Therapy & Experimental Psychiatry, 44, 231-23

  • Seidler, G.H., & Wagner, F.E. (2006). Comparing the efficacy of EMDR and trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy in the treatment of PTSD: a meta-analytic study. Psychological Medicine, 36,1515-1522.

  • Acarturk, C., Konuk, E., Cetinkaya, M., Senay, I., Sijbrandij, M., Gulen, B., & Cuijpers, P. (2016). The efficacy of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing for post-traumatic stress disorder and depression among Syrian refugees: Results of a randomized controlled trial. Psychological medicine46(12), 2583-2593

  • Raymond W. Gunter, Glen E. Bodner, How eye movements affect unpleasant memories: Support for a working-memory account, Behaviour Research and Therapy, Volume 46, Issue 8, 2008, Pages 913-931, ISSN 0005-7967,https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2008.04.006.

  • Comparison of two treatments for traumatic stress: A community-based study of EMDR and prolonged exposure, Ironson, B. Freund, J. L. Strauss, J. Williams

  • Scheck MM, Schaeffer JA, Gillette C. Brief psychological intervention with traumatized young women: the efficacy of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. J Trauma Stress. 1998 Jan;11(1):25-44. doi: 10.1023/A:1024400931106. PMID: 9479674.

  • PTSD in children quickly and effectively treatable within hours

  • EMDR Therapy for Anxiety, Panic, PTSD and Trauma

  • Adapting EMDR for Treating Complex PTSD Symptoms

  • Using EMDR to Find Your ‘Safe Place’ in Trauma Recovery

  • SAFE PLACE RESOURCE & ADAPTATIONS

  • EMDR Therapy: Breaking Down the Barriers

  • EMDR International Association

  • American Psychological Association

  • Here's What You Need To Know Before Your First EMDR Therapy Session

Hello! Did you find this information useful?

Please consider supporting PTSD UK with a donation to enable us to provide more information & resources to help us to support everyone affected by PTSD, no matter the trauma that caused it

PTSD UK Blog

You’ll find up-to-date news, research and information here along with some great tips to ease your PTSD in our blog.

Can PTSD be mistaken for ADHD?

Can PTSD be mistaken for ADHD? Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a condition that affects around 3-5% children and 2% of adults in the UK. The number of people diagnosed with ADHD has escalated over the past few decades,

Read More »

Suicide amongst people with PTSD

Suicide amongst people with PTSD This is an extremely tough topic, and this article contains triggers and some very hard truths. However, it’s crucial to explore and discuss the link between PTSD symptoms and suicidal thoughts and actions to save

Read More »

Can childhood PTSD be mistaken for autism?

Can childhood PTSD be mistaken for autism? As any parent or teacher knows, interpreting a child’s behaviour isn’t always easy, especially if it goes outside the ‘norm’. Sometimes a child’s behaviour is a sign of a cognitive disorder, but since

Read More »

EFT ‘tapping’ for PTSD

EFT ‘tapping’ for PTSD Leading EFT expert urges use of ‘tapping’ to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as doctors predict a surge in COVID-related PTSD. A UK expert in psychological treatments for veterans with PTSD is calling for EFT tapping

Read More »

Purple Tinged Skin Discolouration

Purple Tinged Skin Discolouration PTSD UK supporter Mel, has written this incredibly powerful poem ‘Purple Tinged Skin Discolouration’ – many people feel that there would be less stigma, or more understanding if PTSD was a physical condition that people could

Read More »

The link between cortisol and PTSD

The link between cortisol and PTSD (and how to balance it) PTSD is an intensely complex and hard to understand condition. There is no explanation for why some people develop post-traumatic stress disorder, while others exposed to a similar level

Read More »

Treatments for PTSD

It is possible for PTSD to be successfully treated many years after the traumatic event occurred, which means it is never too late to seek help. For some, the first step may be watchful waiting, then exploring therapeutic options such as individual or group therapy – but the main treatment options in the UK are psychological treatments such as Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprogramming (EMDR) and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

Traumatic events can be very difficult to come to terms with, but confronting and understanding your feelings and seeking professional help is often the only way of effectively treating PTSD. You can find out more in the links below, or here.