EMDR Therapy UK – Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing

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EMDR Is an Innovative Treatment That Helps Patients With Trauma

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) is a type of therapy that helps people work through and move past difficult experiences and emotions in their lives. It is based on the idea that certain types of disturbing life experiences can cause the brain to become “stuck” in a state of hyperarousal, resulting in emotional distress, intrusive thoughts, and physical symptoms. This is known as trauma or post-traumatic stress disorder. EMDR is designed to help people process these experiences by stimulating the brain’s natural healing processes.

What Happens During an EMDR Session?

During EMDR treatment, the therapist guides the patient to focus on a traumatic memory while move your eyes back and forth in a rhythmic pattern.

During this process, the patient can gain insight and clarity around the memory, which can lead to reduced distress and increased feelings of calm. The eye movements are thought to help the brain better process the memory and to help the patient form new, healthier perspectives.

EMDR in Rehab

It is an innovative treatment that helps people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to process negative memories and emotions that have been suppressed. It enables them to achieve their therapeutic goals rapidly, with recognisable changes that don’t disappear over time. 

Following EMDR processing, people often report that any emotional distress related to the trauma has greatly decreased. Many also describe gaining important insights into their mental processes such as memory, judgement, reasoning, and behaviour.

EMDR makes it possible for patients to gain self-awareness and perspective, enabling them to choose how they respond to traumatic memories. Many controlled studies have shown that EMDR is a highly effective therapy in the treatment of PTSD.

The Eight Phases of EMDR

Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) is a form of psychotherapy to help people reprocess painful, unresolved memories such as people who have PTSD. Here are the eight phrases that make up EMDR.

Phase one is sharing your story, getting to know your therapist’s style, and setting up treatment goals. You will also be introduced to touchstone events that contribute to current symptoms. Your therapist will ask you to rate from a scale of 0-10 how disturbing those memories are to you.

Phase two is learning about grounding skills, stress reduction skills, state change skills, or creating an image that will make you feel safe. You will also learn about bilateral stimulation (BLS) which is back-and-forth eye movements, sounds, and tactile sensations to help the right and left hemispheres with traumatic memories. You will also be able to activate your Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) to help access positive experiences, images, and thoughts.

Phase three is when you look at what memory you want to target and will be asked for the image, negative connotation, and positive connotation. Your therapist will ask you to rate your positive connotation on a scale of 1-7 and the disturbing target from 0-10 as well as describe the experience.

Phase four is processing the disturbance of your target by moving your eyes back and forth to hear tones and feel taps. Your therapist will also make you think about things like cognitive interweaves. You will rate from 0-10 your disturbance levels and will be able to move on if you rate a zero.

Phase five is seeing if your positive connotation has changed and how true it feels using a scale of 1-7. You can also use BLS to see if anything gets in the way. If you rate a 7, you can move on.

Phase six is mentally scanning your body to find sensations or tensions signalling something stuck regarding the target. If the sensations continue to linger, use BLS.

Phase seven is for the therapist to provide closure for you to feel better compared to the start of the session. You will use the self-soothing skills from phase two and are encouraged to log experience.

Phase eight will reevaluate the disturbance levels from your target of the last session to determine if your level is neutral and if your positive cognition is true. If not, then go back to phase four.


PTSD stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is a mental health condition that can occur after a person has experienced or witnessed a traumatic event, such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, rape or other violent personal assault. People with PTSD may have flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable, disturbing thoughts and flashbacks about the event. They may also experience feelings of guilt, depression and emotional numbness.

Symptoms of PTSD

  • Flashbacks where the person acts or feels as if the event was recurring
  • Nightmares
  • Repetitive and distressing intrusive images
  • Other sensory impressions from the event
  • More.

Alcohol and Drugs with PTSD

Trauma can be one of the root causes of addiction because people who experience PTSD are more likely to turn to alcohol or drugs to cope with the stressful flashbacks.

People can turn to drugs to self-medicate from PTSD. The use and abuse of drugs or alcohol can temporarily numb the pain and fear associated with PTSD, allowing them to escape the symptoms of their trauma. However, this form of self-medication can lead to addiction, which can worsen the symptoms of PTSD and make it even more difficult for the person to cope.


According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 32.4% of individuals with PTSD also have a substance use disorder (SUD). Additionally, NIDA reports that about one-third of people with alcohol use disorder also have PTSD. Finally, a study from the Journal of Traumatic Stress found that individuals with PTSD were 4 times more likely to develop an addiction than those without PTSD.

See 8 phases of EMDR.

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EMDR in PTSD and Addiction Treatment at Castle Craig

Prior to EMDR, the therapist assesses the patient’s readiness and suitability for EMDR and develops a treatment plan. All Castle Craig trauma therapists are trained through EMDR Europe to the required level to practice safely.

During a therapy session, patients are guided to revisit the traumatic event, consciously focusing on eye movements, sounds, and body sensations. This process can be complex if there are many experiences connected to negative thoughts and feelings. The EMDR therapy sessions continue until the traumatic memories and emotions are relieved.

Man at a doctor's appointment

EMDR treatment works to process all traumatic past events, current incidents that cause distress, and future scenarios that could induce a traumatic response. The overall goal is to produce the most comprehensive and profound treatment effects in the shortest period of time, while simultaneously maintaining a stable client within a balanced system.

  • After EMDR processing, patients generally report that the emotional distress related to the memory has been eliminated, or greatly decreased and that they have gained important insights into their mental processes: perception, memory, judgment, reasoning, and behaviour. Importantly, these emotional and cognitive changes usually result in behavioural and personal changes.

Our Abuse and Trauma Consultant, Linda Hill, is highly qualified with considerable experience in this area and provides expert consultancy and supervision of staff.

‘I found the work with Linda very helpful and have no doubt it enabled me to let go of things from the past and helped me to replace feelings of anger, shame, and guilt with acceptance.’ – a former patient.

EMDR Facts and Statistics

According to a study from the Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 78% of patients receiving EMDR therapy in combination with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) experienced a reduction in PTSD symptoms. Additionally, a study from the British Journal of Psychiatry found that EMDR therapy was more effective than CBT in reducing PTSD symptoms after one year in a sample of combat veterans. Finally, a meta-analysis from the American Journal of Psychiatry found that EMDR therapy was more effective than traditional exposure therapy in reducing PTSD symptoms in a sample of victims of interpersonal violence.

Find Help

If you or someone close to you has been struggling with addiction, and past attempts of recovery have been unsuccessful, a rehab programme that includes EMDR therapy may be the answer. Castle Craig offers EMDR therapy as a way to address the root causes of addiction caused by trauma. If you think this could be beneficial for you reach out to us at Castle Craig to explore the different treatment options.

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How Can Castle Craig Help?

How Do I Pay For Rehab?

One concern we sometimes hear from people is how they will fund their rehab treatment. The cost of rehab varies depending on what kind of accommodation you choose. You can pay for treatment at Castle Craig privately, or through medical insurance, and some people receive funding through the NHS.

How Long Is the Rehab Programme?

Residential rehab treatment starts at 4 weeks and can go up to 12+ weeks. Research shows us that the longer you stay in rehab and are part of the residential therapy programme, the longer the likelihood of continued abstinence and stable recovery.

Who Will I Speak to When I Call?

When you call you will reach our Help Centre team who will give you all the information you need to help you decide whether to choose treatment at Castle Craig. Once you have decided that you would like to have a free screening assessment you will be put in touch with our admissions case managers who will guide you through the admissions process.

What Happens at the End of My Treatment?

Castle Craig thoroughly prepares patients before departure by creating a personalised continuing care plan which is formulated following discussions with the medical and therapeutic team. We offer an online continuing care programme which runs for 24 weeks after leaving treatment, in order to ensure a smooth transition back into your everyday life. Patients leaving treatment automatically join our Recovery Club where they can stay connected via our annual reunion, events, online workshops and recovery newsletters.

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