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Kirsten Mackenzie EMDR trauma psychologist counsellor therapist

Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy that assists people heal from the symptoms and emotional distress of trauma and other disturbing life experiences such as PTSD, anxiety, depression and panic disorders (EMDR Institute, Inc.; EMDRIA Org).

Extensive studies have been undertaken showing EMDR therapy can provide lasting therapeutic results that sometimes once took years to make a difference and it is now recognised as an effective form of treatment by organisations such as the American Psychiatric Association, the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, World Health Organisation and the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, Dept. of Defense (EMDR Institute, Inc., EMDRIA. Org.).

It is important that EMDR therapy be undertaken by a trained clinician as it consists of using detailed protocols and procedures.

When traumatic or disturbing life events occur, the impact of the event can block it being naturally processed by the brain.  When this occurs upsetting images, thoughts, and emotions from the event may continue to cause distress and affect daily functioning in the present.  EMDR therapy can assist in removing this block, allowing natural healing to resume, and the brain to process the memory.  The memory will remain, however, the distress (fight, flight, freeze response) from the event will be resolved (EMDR Institute, Inc., EMDRIA. Org).

Unlike other therapies, there is no requirement to talk in depth about the traumatic or disturbing life experience or complete homework between sessions.  The client will only be asked to attend to emotionally disturbing material in brief doses while at the same time focusing on an external stimulus such as bilateral eye movements, hand-tapping or audio stimulation (

EMDR is an eight-phase treatment utelising a three pronged approach - (1) the past events that are the foundation of dysfunction are processed which have produced new associative links with adaptive information; (2) the current circumstances that bring about distress are targeted and internal and external triggers are desensitised; (3) imaginal templates of future events are incorporated, to help the client in acquiring skills needed for adaptive functioning (EMDR Institute, Inc.).

EMDR has been shown to be effective in treating:


Introduction to EMDR Therapy

Introduction to EMDR Therapy

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