Archive report of meeting
Thursday 23rd November 2017
Past notice

EMDR:   Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing from a hypnotherapist’s point of view

A talk by Gloria May

At its November 2017 meeting the James Braid Society was delighted to welcome the return on one of its own founding member – Gloria May – when she delivered a helpful and very clear introducton to Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing ... thankfully usually referred to as EMDR.

Catherine Dixon
Gloria May

is a National Council for Hypnotherapy Registered Hypnotherapist and supervisor.  She has worked at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, dealing with anxiety and  the side-effects of HIV drugs, 
Before the advent of effective HIV drugs Gloria worked for a charity set up to give alternative therapies to HIV sufferers, using hypnotherapy with clients grieving for their friends and whose own death was very near. 
She also ran a meditation class in Wormwood Scrubs Prison for three years. 
She been in private practice since 1980 and in 2000 was accredited by the EMDR UK and Ireland Association to treat post-traumatic stress disorder.


Gloria began by describing the origins of this technique which began when American psychologist Francine Shapiro took herself off to a local park following an unpleasant disagreement with a colleague.
Upset by the row Shapiro started to watch something going to and fro in the park when suddenly she felt much better.
She then sought to replicate this change with colleagues, by using her fingers to stimulate bilateral movement in the eyes. And it worked..
From this beginning Shapiro incorporated the procedure into her CBT background and developed a therapy which has spread worldwide and is used in battlefields, hospitals, GPs surgeries and private practices.

In her own Cental London practice Gloria uses EMDR when there is shock involved in a particular incident or when there is ambivalence or confusion.
She explained: "It’s also useful when grieving can’t be completed because of some particular incident or feeling which keeps it stuck.
"I decided to do the EMDR training after reading about it and realising that that the way I was using hypnosis wasn’t effective for sudden and shocking events which were stuck in the memory and came back without warning as PTSD."

There are now a number of organisation offering EMDR training but our speaker was taught by the EMDR Association of the UK & Ireland which, in its early days, strictly confined its students to the medical profession. Those rules though have been relaxed and today any serious therapist with experience will be accepted for training.
Gloria stressed that the way in which the protocol is set up is of great importance as the right event has to be targeted in order for the therapy to succeed.
"The protocol needs to be learned thoroughly so that any deviation from it has a sound reason," she said.
"For instance, the official advice is to go for the first time the incident took place, then the worst, then the most recent and finally a future pacing to put in place a more adaptable reaction to any such event. In real life what is most useful is to target what the clients finds the most distressing."

Patients/clients are asked to identify specific emotions and a sense of where it is in their body in a ways similar to the SUDs system with which many hypnotherapists will be familiar. The incident being checked is rated on a distress scale of 1-10 and the EMDR Association specify that it should be down to at least 1½ to be considered dealt with.

The speed of the movements is dictated by what is acceptable to the client, whilst making sure that it goes as fast as they can tolerate in order to degrade the incident. A few very slow movements are helpful to install a new phrase relating to their change of self-worth when the process has been completed.
It is recommended a safe place be created in the person’s mind before processing starts. However Gloria has found from expereience that most people just want to "get on with the therapy" and the safe place is more usefully placed at the end of a session with some hypnosis and guided imagery.


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