EMDR Therapy

At New Leaf we are able to offer EMDR for children, adolescents, young people and adults.

With appropriate therapist experience, developmental adaptations and parental support, this can be offered to children as young as 2 or 3 years of age. Dr Emily Wilson is an EMDR Practitioner accredited by EMDR Europe to work with Adults, Children & Adolescents.

What is EMDR?

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing. It is a therapeutic approach used to help people recover from overwhelming events and the problems they have experienced as a result such as flashbacks, nightmares, upsetting thoughts or images, low mood or anxiety.

EMDR was originally developed to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) but it can also help with many other mental health difficulties.

EMDR Umbrella New Leaf

How does EMDR work?

We can think of our brains as storing memories in a similar way to how files are stored on a computer. They are organised and filled away so that we can find them and retrieve them when we want to remember something.

When a person is involved in a traumatic event, they may feel overwhelmed, and their brain may struggle to make sense of what happened. This means that the file cannot be stored away properly. It is thought that the memory of the event seems to become “stuck” in a raw format where it remains intense and vivid.

Because the memory has not been filed away properly, when the person encounters something that reminds them of their accident or trauma, they can are easily reminded of what they saw, heard, and smelt, and they can re-experience the distress they felt at the time. This may be in the form of flashbacks, nightmares or intrusive thoughts or images.

EMDR aims to help the brain “unstick” and make sense of the memory properly so that it can be filed away, allowing the person to think about it, if and when they choose to. EMDR helps to desensitise the person to the emotional impact of the memory, so that they can think about the event more like a normal memory of the past, without experiencing such strong and upsetting feelings.

During sessions, the person will be supported to think about difficult memories in manageable, bite-sized chunks, helping the client to recall their traumatic experience, without feeling overwhelmed.

It is thought that we naturally make sense of events of the day during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. One thought is that EMDR looks to replicate this process.

The therapist asks the client to recall the traumatic event while they also either move their eyes from side-to-side, or hear a sound in each ear alternately, or feel a tap on each hand alternately. These side-to-side sensations replicate the eye-movements in REM sleep. They are thought to help to kick-start the “stuck” processing system in the brain so that it can reprocess the information more like an ordinary memory, reducing its intensity.

During EMDR treatment you will work with your therapist to ensure sessions progress at a pace you feel comfortable with. You will be in control and fully alert. EMDR is not a form of hypnosis.

What can EMDR help with?

EMDR is recognised by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The World Health Organisation (WHO) also recognises EMDR as an effective treatment for children.
EMDR was originally designed to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and it is used by the NHS, military, private sector, and charitable organisations to do so.

Research suggests that EMDR can also be used to help treat a wider variety of mental health problems like depression or anxiety, especially where a difficult life event has been involved such as:

  • Physical or sexual assault and/or injury, including rape
  • Motor vehicle accident
  • Other kinds of accident where you feared for your life
  • Natural disasters
  • War trauma
  • Medical trauma
  • Traumatic childbirth
  • Bereavement, miscarriage, stillbirth
  • Divorce or other loss
  • Bullying

Increasingly, EMDR therapy is also being used for the treatment of other mental health problems including:

  • Depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Performance anxiety
  • Phobias and fears
  • Anxiety
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Grieving and loss
  • Developmental and attachment trauma

Further information about EMDR can be found here.

EMDR for children and adolescents

Where the clinician is specifically trained, EMDR is suitable for adults, young people and children. Younger children can find it difficult to participate with some types of talking therapies and so EMDR can present an effective, simpler alternative.

Dr Emily Wilson is an EMDR Practitioner accredited by EMDR Europe to work with Adults, Children & Adolescents.

EMDR is recognised by the World Health Organisation (2013) as an effective therapy for children and adolescents who have experienced traumatic events.

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We all see the world differently and therefore what one person experiences as distressing may not be the same for another person. It is very common for children and adolescents to feel distressed following a trauma. Post trauma symptoms and PTSD can occur following one event or a series of events. The trauma may lead the child to believe the world is dangerous and alter their capability to live as they did before the trauma. The experience may cause a child to be in a state of fear, worry, or anxiety, displaying changes in behaviour such as reduced concentration, clinginess, disrupted sleep, changes in appetite, irritability etc. This gets in the way of their ability to live a normal life, make friends, and sustain relationships.

In most cases symptoms improve within a few weeks. Unfortunately, a small percentage of children will go on to develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as other symptoms such as anxiety or low mood.

PTSD is caused by an inability to process a traumatic event naturally. This may be because the event feels especially overwhelming, shocking or distressing. Signs that your child or teenager may be struggling following a traumatic event may include episodes of ‘remembering’ the original event, behaving as if they are re-experiencing the original event or avoiding reminders of the event. Behavioural or emotional changes may occur too.

How does EMDR work with children and adolescents?

EMDR can be adapted to meet the specific needs and developmental stage of the child or adolescent. Using EMDR with children and young people can therefore be very creative, using pictures, drawings and stories where younger children or even young adults may struggle to talk about the trauma.

EMDR therapy helps the brain “digest” the traumatic event in an effective and safe way.

Below is some further information about EMDR for parents/carers and young people:

Further information about EMDR can be found here.

To make an enquiry or book an appointment, please use the form below:

What to do if you need urgent attention

Unfortunately, we are unable to provide an emergency service. If you find yourself or a family member in crisis and require urgent attention, you should contact:

Your GP

Contact your GP surgery and ask for an emergency appointment. Outside of office hours contact NHS 111 (England) or NHS Direct 0845 46 47 (Wales) to access the out of hours GP service.

The Emergency Services

If you feel you cannot wait for an appointment, go to any Accident & Emergency (A&E) department or call 999

The Samaritans

Remember you can call Samaritans on freephone 116 123 from ANY phone – they’re always open and are there to listen.