"For the first time in a long time I’m enjoying my life again." - Academic
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Counselling Services
Book an Appointment If you are ready to start making changes in your life Click here
Bookstore Check out our recommended self-help reading Click here
Coaching To find out more about coaching services Click here
Resources For links to short articles and other therapy resources Click here
Testimonials What our clients have said about their therapy with us Click here

Joe Armstrong




Joe Armstrong

About EMDR - Trauma Therapy


What is EMDR?

Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a powerful psychological treatment that EMDR Scotlandwas developed in the 1980s by an American clinical Psychologist, Dr Francine Shapiro. EMDR treatment is based on the idea that a traumatic or distressing experience may overwhelm the brain’s coping mechanisms and the memories, beliefs, emotions, images and physical sensations associated with the experience gets stored or ‘frozen in time’ within  an isolated memory network. As a consequence, the brain is unable to adequately process the experience, which in turn causes an imbalance or block in the nervous system resulting in ongoing psychological disturbance. And it is not just major traumatic events that can cause problems; EMDR has revealed that even common childhood humiliations and disappointments can also have similar long lasting negative effects on our mental health.

How does EMDR work?

In the same way that the body works to heal a physical injury such as a cut or wound, the brain is believed to have a similar system that facilitates mental health. This Adaptive Information Processing System is designed to relieve emotional pain and promote psychological wellbeing. EMDR therapy aims to stimulate this natural healing process by accessing and unblocking the distressing memories and their associated negative emotions, thoughts and sensations.

A key component of EMDR treatment involves the use of procedures to stimulate rapid eye movements, which usually entails the client following the therapist’s hand moving rapidly across their visual field. Although the precise mechanisms of how EMDR works are not fully known, it is believed that the eye movements mimic what happens when we dream (i.e. REM sleep), during which time the brain processes or ‘makes sense’ of events and experiences that have happened during the day. Successfully processed material is integrated with other stored material and loses the ‘emotional charge’ it once held for the person. As a consequence, the person is able to learn what is useful from the negative experience and let everything else go.

EMDR treatment does not involve hypnosis, inducing a trance state or any kind of auto-suggestion. Clients are fully awake during treatment sessions.

What conditions can EMDR help with?

EMDR has been used successfully to treat psychological trauma related to:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Childhood sexual or physical abuse or neglect
  • Sexual and physical assault
  • Road traffic accidents
  • Workplace accidents
  • Natural disasters
  • Combat/War
  • Surgery

Although originally developed to treat adults with PTSD, EMDR has been shown to be helpful in treating children and other conditions such as phobias, anxiety disorders, low self-esteem, and as well as performance anxiety.

Is EMDR effective?

EMDR is an evidence-based treatment recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Extensive research has demonstrated that EMDR can speed up the healing process following a traumatic experience and that the effects of treatment endure over time. Currently, EMDR treatment of post-traumatic stress disorders has been more thoroughly researched than any other form of psychological therapy. EMDR has been shown to be highly effective and it often works within a shorter period of time than other therapies.

What does EMDR treatment involve?

EMDR Treatment ScotlandEMDR treatment requires focusing on three time periods:  the past, present, and future.  This means that attention is given to past disturbing memories and related events, to current problematic situations, and also to assisting clients to develop the skills and attitudes needed for positive future actions and wellbeing. This is accomplished during eight essential phases, although the number of phases included in an EMDR session and the specific number of sessions devoted to each phase is likely to vary from client to client. The eight phases are as follow:

Phase 1:  This phase involves taking a detailed history of the client’s problems, assessing their readiness and suitability for EMDR treatment as well as developing a treatment plan (e.g. identifying possible distressing memories and present situations that are problematic).

Phase 2: A crucial aspect of EMDR treatment involves ensuring the client is prepared to cope with the possibility of emotional distress that may arise during and after treatment sessions. Clients are taught a variety of stress reduction techniques and different ways to handle emotional distress so that they do not become overwhelmed during or between sessions.

Phases 3 to 6:  Phases 3 to 6 involve selecting a memory for processing using EMDR procedures.  The client identifies a vivid visual image related to the distressing memory, a negative belief about self (e.g. I’m worthless; I’m not safe), as well as related emotions and body sensations. The client is also assisted to formulate a new positive belief (e.g. I am a worthwhile person; I am safe) to replace the negative belief. Processing involves the client focusing on the memory, negative thought and their body sensations during sets or rapid eye movements (or other forms of bilateral stimulation such as tones). Processing continues until the client’s distress associated with the target memory has diminished, at which point the positive belief is processed and strengthened.

Phase 7:  Phase 7 is about closure. At the end of each session the client is assisted to return to a state of emotional equilibrium following the reprocessing that took place, and advised that processing may continue between sessions and that this is a positive sign. Clients are also advised to keep a log or diary to keep a record of any material or new insights that arises and to practice the stress-reduction techniques that they have learned in phase two for treatment.

Phase 8:  Phase eight takes place at the beginning of each new session and consists of a re-evaluation of previously processed memories and the client’s progress so far. New material may be targeted for processing at this stage, but only after the previously identified disturbances have been fully resolved.  

Successful EMDR treatment is determined by the extent to which clients have not only resolved painful emotional material but also transformed its meaning. It is not uncommon for clients to report feeling empowered by past traumas and to have developed new and more adaptive ways of thinking, feeling and behaving.

How long does EMDR treatment take? 

This depends on a variety of factors such as the number of traumatic experiences the client has had and the length to time the person has suffered from PTSD or traumatic stress. On average, an adult who has experienced a single trauma is likely to be successfully treated with 5 hours of therapy, whereas an individual who has been through multiple traumas may require more hours of treatment.

How can I access EMDR treatment?

EMDR is a complex therapy and practitioners must have a background in mental health prior to undertaking EMDR training. Dr Joe Armstrong is an Accredited Cognitive Behavioural Therapist and a Registered Mental Health Nurse who has successfully completed accredited training in EMDR, which allows him to use this therapy in practice.

To book an appointment or to find out more about EMDR please don’t hesitate to get in touch to arrange a free, no-obligation telephone consultation to discuss your concerns and find out how I might be able to help:

For all Enquiries or to Book an Appointment - please  Click Here

Call: 0330 223 1743

What are the fees for EMDR treatement?

I offer a Free 15-minute Telephone Call to discuss your concerns and clarify how I might be able to help before booking an appointment.

Alternatively, you may wish to book a no-obligation Initial Assessment Consultation for a detailed assessment of your problems/needs and receive an outline plan of how therapy could help you overcome your problems. At the end of the assessment consultation, you will have an opportunity to discuss the type(s) of therapy that may best suit your needs, and be given an estimate to the number of sessions needed so that you will be clear about the investment you are making in your health and well-being in terms of the overall cost of your therapy, and also in relation to the time and effort required to get your life back on track.

The no-obligation assessment consultation may help you decide if you would like to engage in therapy at this stage and whether or not I am the right therapist for you.

Initial (no-obligation) Assessment Consultation- £85

Individual EMDR Session - £85 for each one hour session

*EMDR sessions last between one hour and one hour and 15 minutes.

Fees for EMDR treatment reflect the complex and specialist nature of this therapy, my professional qualifications and experience and the value of the service I offer to my clients. If you choose to have EMDR treatment with me, you can be assured of a high quality service and that my training and experience means that I am equipped with the skills and knowledge to help you to overcome your problems as quickly as possible.

Payment can be made by cash or cheque at the end of each session or via bank transfer in advance or each session.

EMDR Resources

Short YouTube videos of EMDR: To watch a selection of short videos about EMDR produced by the UK and Ireland EMDR Association Click Here

For more information about EMDR please visit the following EMDR organisations:

CBT & Counselling can help with:

Appointments available in Dundee, Perth and Dollar


Tel: 0330 223 1743 | Email: info@cbtcounsellingscotland.co.uk

Address for correspondence: Hudson House, 8 Albany Street, Edinburgh EH1 3QB