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P-20 Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing
  1. Sheena Mackenzie and
  2. Lucinda Combes
  1. St Richard’s Hospice, Worcester, UK


Background Traumatic and sudden loss can result in trauma symptoms such as nightmares, flashbacks and avoidance. These symptoms can disrupt natural grief processes (Murray. J EMDR Pract Res. 2012, 6(4):187–91). Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an 8-phase evidence based therapy that addresses the past, present and future impact of traumatic memories (Shapiro. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EDMR) therapy: basic principles, protocols, and procedures. 2018.) The Family Support Team regularly see clients with bereavement related trauma symptoms. NHS mental health services may be unable to respond in a timely way (Royal College of Psychiatry, 2020).

Aims To explore the provision of EMDR within a hospice setting.

Methods Sept. 2021- Aug. 2022. Two Family Support Counsellors trained to L4 in EMDR. Aug. 2022 to present. EMDR was delivered to bereaved clients experiencing symptoms of psychological trauma.

Results Since February 2022, 17 clients were assessed for EMDR. Ten completed active trauma processing (phases 1–8). Four are currently in phases 1–2 (history taking and preparation) and are likely to proceed to Phases 3–8, active trauma processing. Further, we have identified four clients with high levels of dissociation (Leeds, Madere, Coy. J EMDR Pract Res. 2022, 16(1):2022). In total 15 memories were processed with an average Subjective Unit of Disturbance (SUD) of 7.4 (On a scale of 0–10 where 10 is the highest disturbance possible). After EMDR processing this came down to an average of 0.7.

Conclusion Evaluation of EMDR shows a significant positive contribution to the wellbeing of bereaved clients. Client feedback was universally positive; “It really works doesn’t it?” (Client, Jun. 2022). This was the case even where EMDR could not be delivered in time limited setting due to the presence of a high degree of dissociative symptoms. Systematic use of outcome measures and a planned piece of research would strengthen the evidence for the provision of EMDR.

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