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April 2014

CBT vs. EMDR therapy

All our clinicians at Psychology4Law are trained in CBT, and we are now widening our expertise to include EMDR therapy. Peter Parnes has completed Part 1 training in EMDR run by Alexandra Richman, recognised by the EMDR International Association (EMDRIA).

What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that can help people who are experiencing a wide range of mental health difficulties. The basis of CBT is: what people think can affect how they feel and how they behave.

During times of mental distress, people think differently about themselves and what happens to them. Thoughts can become extreme and unhelpful and this can worsen how a person feels. CBT therapists help their clients to identify and change their extreme thinking and unhelpful behaviour.

CBT is one of the most widely researched psychological therapies, and has an extensive evidence base that upholds its effectiveness. Furthermore, CBT is the recommended treatment for depression and anxiety in adults as outlined by the NICE guidlines in 2009 (www.nice.org.uk/CG90).

What can you expect from CBT?


The relationship between therapist and client is seen as an equal partnership in CBT, each party brings something to the relationship. The therapist brings skills and knowledge of psychological processes, theories of emotion and techniques that have helped others. While the client is an expert in their own experiences and what resources they have. In CBT, therapy is not something that is experienced as being 'done' to the client.


The client is encouraged to try things out in between sessions; putting what has been learned into practice. This is reffered to as homework and is an important aspect of CBT.

What is EMDR?

EMDR stands for 'Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing' and is an innovative clinical treatment originated and developed by Clinical Psychologist, Dr Francine Shapiro in 1987. EMDR is effective in treating individuals who have experienced psychological difficulties arising from traumatic experiences such as assault, road traffic accidents, war, natural or man-made disasters, sexual abuse and childhood neglect.

Like CBT, EMDR therapy has encouraged a huge amount of research. There have been numerous studies that support the efficacy of EMDR therapy in the treatment of various psychological difficulties. Indeed, EMDR is the recommended treatment for Post Traumatic Stress disorder (PTSD) in both adults and children according to the NICE guidlines (Clinical Guidance 26, 2005).

How does EMDR work?

During EMDR therapy, your therapist will ask you to select an image that represents your distressing event. You will then be asked to think about negative and positive thoughts, your feelings and to report the amount of distress you feel. Your therapist will then begin the eye movements while you hold the image in mind. After each set of eye movements your therapist will ask you what came to mind or what you noticed during your eye movements.

The alternating left-right stimulation of the barin with eye movements, sounds or taps during EMDR, seems to stimulate the frozen or blocked information processing system. In the process the distressing memories seem to lose their intensity, so that the memories are less distressing and seem mor like ordinary memories. The effect is believed to be similar to that which occurs naturally during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep when your eyes rapidly move from side to side.

What to expect from EMDR therapy?

EMDR therapy is very different from talking therapy. During EMDR sessions, there is no need to discuss your memories in detail, your therapist only needs to know where you are in the desensitisation process. This can suit many people very well as some may find discussing their distressing memories painful. Also, some people may not wish to disclose their memories for confidential reasons.

Unlike CBT, the client can remain quite passive during their EMDR sessions, as the therapist does not need a large amount of input from the client during the desensitisation process. EMDR therapy does involve aspects of Cognitive therapy in that the therapist will help the client identify the distressing thoughts that are associated with their memory.

For further information please contact us at the following address contact@psychology4law.co.uk

March 2012

Legal Aid, Sentencing of Offenders and Punishment BIll suffers series of defeats

The Ministry of Justice's bill had a number of amendments upheld within the House of Lords. These included preventing legal aid being removed from decisions on social security benefits and in funding medical reports for clinical negligence cases, amongst others.

Lord Beecham, tabled the following amendment; "Expert evidence - The Lord Chancellor must review the accessibility and quality of expert advice that is available for civil legal proceedings and ensure that this is maintained or improved following the commencement of this Part." Despite a range of arguments made against the recent changes to the funding of experts by the Legal Services Commission, particularly that they had served to restrict access to high quality evidence, Lord Beecham eventually dropped the amendment. In defending the changes, Lord Wallace of Tankerness ackowleged concerns about the funding of experts and stated thus: 'the Ministry of Justice is working with the Legal Services Commission and stakeholders to monitor the effect of the fee levels and to gather further data to inform the Government's longer-term plans to put in place a scheme of fixed and graduated fees for experts.

Ofsted issues new adoption rules

The adoption system has long been criticised for taking too long to place children and for the high rate, 20%, of placement breakdowns. The consequences of delay and breakdown for children are considerable given the important need for stability. As such, Ofsted has given new guidelines to local government in which they will only acheive the coveted 'outstanding' rating if they place children within 12 months of the decision being made to adopt - the current average is 2 years and 7 months and does not include the time in care prior to a decision being reached.

These changes have been broadly welcomed and sit within the prime minister's priority of making adoptions occur earlier. Others have commented that recent changes to the Legal Aid system, which have reduced the availability of expert witnesses and put additional pressure on the family courts, mean there is a gap between the government's priorities and the realities on the ground.

February 2012

The mental health of looked after children

Stigma continues to surround the mental health of looked after children and young people, new reaearch has highlighted. Carried out by YoungMinds, the report- entitled Improving the `mental Helath of Looked After Young People - revealed January saw more applications to take youngsters into care than any previous four-week period.

In addition, it was noted that 60 per cent of looked after young people have a mental health issue of one form or another.

YoungMinds said the findings show that services in contact with these individuals need to be more aware of their mental health needs.

It was found that a high number of young people have a negative perception of mental health services, while the majority feel their emotional needs are not understood.

Lucie Russell, Director of Campaigns and Policy at YoungMinds said: "Looked after chidren have come from a variety of traumatic backgrounds and experience many of the risk factors that lead to emntal health problems incuding neglect, violence and sexual abuse."