What does EMDR mean?

Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an effective tool of psychotherapy and is supported by robust clinical research. It is recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

At Butterfly Counselling, we have a fully qualified EMDR specialist who has acquired accredited training with the EMDR Association for UK/Europe. The psychotherapist is competent in EMDR with adults and has trained in Parts 1/2/3/4. The theoretical framework model for EMDR therapy is Adaptive Information Processing (AIP).


What does EMDR do?

Put simply, EMDR is a psychotherapy approach which identifies and processes memories from an over-whelming traumatic event which has occurred in someone’s life. The therapist uses either visual, auditory or tactile stimulation to help the client with processing the memory.

EMDR uses a natural function of the body, known as Rapid Eye Movement (REM) to process trauma. REM occurs when we sleep to help us process our everyday emotional experiences.

Following a distressing event, sometimes a memory becomes ‘stuck’ due to the high level of stress/disturbances experienced at that time. The memory then becomes an unprocessed memory, a ‘stuck’ memory. The unprocessed memory of a distressing event gets stuck in the original time and place. This means that a person cannot remember the distressing event or similar events without feeling emotionally triggered. Emotional triggers usually arise from our senses – sight/hearing/touch/smell/taste. The painful emotions, negative cognitions and physical sensations experienced in the body during the original event become triggered in the here and now.

EMDR can help reduce the intensity of disturbing emotions and thoughts associated with a past traumatic event and can give a person a sense of control back into their lives.

What can EMDR be used for?

  • Anxiety of any type
  • Panic attacks
  • Traumas/Complex Trauma
  • PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
  • Grief and loss
  • Pain

    There are many other issues that EMDR can help you with – contact Butterfly Counselling Services Ltd for details.

    The 8 phases of EMDR therapy

    History Taking

    The therapist will take a history of presenting problems, current triggers and develop a treatment plan. During the history taking, a target will be identified. A target may be a specific memory from the past or a current situation in the client’s life that causes a high emotional charge. It may also be a future skills or behaviours wanted by the client.


    Explanation of what will happen during an EMDR session. The client will be asked to picture a safe or calm place which they will use in the session and in between sessions for when they experience any emotional distress. To help the client with emotional stabilisation, further coping techniques will be given. These can be used during and in between EMDR sessions. These techniques are usually only needed during a client’s time in EMDR therapy.


    Together the client and therapist choose a target to work on. Then, the client will be asked to bring up an image/picture, a negative and positive cognition, emotions linked to the target and their level of disturbance, and where physical sensations are in the body.


    Working in sets, using visual, auditory or tactile stimulation, the therapist will begin to help the client reprocess the disturbing event. There will be breaks in between sets to ‘check-in’ with the client.


    Again working in sets using visual, auditory or tactile stimulation, the positive cognition is installed.

    Body Scan

    The body scan is to check whether there is any physical discomfort left in the body. If there is no physical discomfort, the therapist will move to closure. However, if any physical discomfort remains in the body, the therapist will do further sets using visual, auditory or tactile stimulation.


    This happens at the end of all sessions. The therapist will ask the client to picture their calm place to help them to feel relaxed. The target may or may not have been fully processed. If the target is not processed, we will resume processing it in the next session.

    The client is asked to keep a journal and to write down their thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations and dreams that occur in between the EMDR sessions.


    In all sessions, the therapist and client re-evaluate the prior session. They will then either proceed with the target from the previous session or identify further targets.

    More information

    The above protocol may be changed to accommodate the different issues clients have. This therapy can be successfully provided either online via Zoom or in a face-to-face therapy room setting, making it a very accessible treatment for all.

    Each session lasts 60 – 90 minutes.

    Please contact Butterfly Counselling Services Ltd for details on fees.

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