As an art therapist I am always looking for ways to add to the “toolbox” where words are too hard. After a Janina Fischer presentation on trauma I spoke to a fellow art therapist who has a great interest in trauma work and she suggested look into EMDR.

I thought what is this “thing” where a therapist’s finger goes from left to right before your eyes and the trauma is “gone”. EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. What do all those words mean so I investigated further and found a great youtube video which explains the process much better than me. Love it as I am a visual person, hence an art therapist.


I thought wow and did my training. This is what I found. EMDR therapy is an 8 phase process. The actual eye movement component only occurs in one phase. There is a lot of preparation, stabilisation, target memory work to be done.  Many people have seen me for EMDR and want to launch straight into it as that is what they have been told and want instant relief. WRONG. As with any therapeutic relationship, you need rapport, safety trust. But when the eye movement happens. WOW. The premise according to Shapiro is that every trauma (memory) has 3 components. The content (the memory) the thoughts (ie I am not good enough, I am not safe etc) and the affect (which you feel in your body ie tight in chest, butterflies in stomach). The idea of EMDR is that the memory becomes distant (my words, does not have as much bite) more helpful thoughts emerge (I am a capable) and the distress diminishes.

I have lots of people say “they have tried everything else” and “I would like this in a pill”. The relief is so quick rather than years of therapy. It is not for everyone as with any therapy. But I encourage you to give it a go for trauma, PTSD, anxiety, depression.

I work as an art therapist at Mullum Psychology on a Friday at Croydon but am trained in EMDR and would love for you to consider this if all else has not worked.

By Karin Mead