Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing

What is Eye Movement and Desensitisation and Reprocessing?

Eye  Movement  Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a distinct treatment approach which uses bilateral stimulation to support the processing of distressing information that can sometimes remain “frozen” in the brain when a person feels very overwhelmed (e.g. trauma). 


EMDR was initially developed in order to successfully treat PTSD and this is where the bulk of its evidence-base presently lies. That said, EMDR is increasingly being used to treat other conditions in which disturbing memories play a part.

EMDR therapy for PTSD

EMDR therapy focuses on past or present disturbing memories, experiences or events. Eye movements (or other bilateral stimulation) are used during sessions. 


Once a memory or experience is agreed upon, the therapist will ask the client to hold the event or thought in mind and to track the therapist’s hand as it moves back and forth across their field of vision.  Whilst this happens, EMDR holds that inner associations arise and the client begins to process the memory and distressing feelings. 


In successful EMDR therapy, the meaning of painful events is changed and integrated on an emotional level.


EMDR is an evidence based approach and its validity and reliability has been established by rigorous research. EMDR is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) as an effective treatment for PTSD.

Day 6

What happens in EMDR?

  • You and your therapist will agree on key traumatic memories that you want to work on
  • Your therapist will continue to work with you and focus on specific memories until the intense affect associated with them has decreased
  • EMDR can be delivered as a therapy in its own right or sometimes you might receive it in conjunction with another therapeutic approach

Frequently asked questions

You are likely to be offered EMDR if you have experienced trauma, whether that was a single traumatic event or a series of more pervasive traumatic events. EMDR can be especially effective if you are experiencing PTSD flashbacks or intrusive thoughts that involve re-experiencing this trauma.

Schema therapy can also be an appropriate model for dealing with past trauma. Whether you are offered EMDR rather than schema therapy depends on whether your symptoms and difficulties lend themselves to a more targeted approach like EMDR. Ultimately, this will come down to what both you and your therapist believe you will most benefit from.

EMDR is often a short-term intervention and generally lasts anywhere from 6 – 12 sessions. But ultimately, it depends on the nature of your trauma as well as how many traumatic events you are working on.

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Dr Elena Touroni

Dr Elena Touroni is a skilled and experienced consultant psychologist with a track record of delivering high-quality services for individuals with all common emotional difficulties and those with a diagnosis of personality disorder. She is experienced in service design and delivery, the management of multi-disciplinary teams, organisational consultancy, and development and delivery of both national and bespoke training to providers in the statutory and non-statutory sector.

Having obtained a first degree in Psychology (BSc) at the American College of Greece, she completed her doctoral training at the University of Surrey. Dr Touroni is highly experienced in the assessment and treatment of depression, anxiety, substance misuse, personality disorder, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, adjustment disorder and relationship difficulties. She works with both individuals and couples and can offer therapy in English and Greek.

Dr Touroni has held a variety of clinical and managerial positions including as Head of Service in the NHS. Further she has held academic positions for the University of Surrey and the Institute of Mental Health lecturing on specialist postgraduate Masters and Doctorate programmes.

She is trained in several specialist therapeutic approaches such as schema therapy, dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), mindfulness-based approaches and Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT). As well as holding a variety of NHS positions, Dr. Touroni is the co-founder of a private practice in Central London that has been a provider of psychological therapy for all common emotional difficulties including personality disorder since 2002. She is the founder and one of two directors of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic.