Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and EMDR 
Leeds, Harrogate, Wetherby & York 
As therapists, we often talk with our clients about which emotional system is activated in us at any given time. Our focus often lies on the ‘Threat’ system. 
I often think about my system and how it goes off in me on a regular basis when I’m driving. 
So, what are you? A snowflake; a millennial; a baby boomer; a generation X? These are the labels that society gives us dependent on when we were born. We also get labelled according to our size, height, colour, intelligence, job and financial status. The list is endless. Labelling is so common that it has become a ‘shorthand’ for how we view ourselves and other people. 
“Grrrrrrrrrrr! How bloody dare they?” 
If you had been inside my head last week that was what you would have heard. 
This week it’s Mental Health Awareness Week (14-20 May). It is easy to forget that it is just as important to look after our mental health as it is our physical health. 
Increased stress levels are often the cause of starting to feel anxious, low and irritable. If we ignore our stress we can manage our mental health more effectively. 
So, how do we begin to address our stress? Well, first we have to know what it is …… 
EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It’s a bit of a mouthful and you would be right in wondering what it’s all about? 
It’s a therapy that was developed in the States, originally developed to treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in war veterans. It sill is used for PTSD and works by helping to turn down volume of distressing memories that play on the mind. It is proving to be helpful, also, in the treatment of other trauma memories.  
When I use the word ‘trauma’ don’t be put off – it really applies to any event that is aversive or distressing that in all likelihood has left an imprint on our minds. In most cases these memories are stored into our longer-term memory – where we can pull on them as and when we need to and they help to inform us about our thoughts and actions in the here and now. 
As I write, I can remember stuff from school that, when I choose to bring it to mind, can cause some mild distress. Note to Miss Hall, Junior 2 teacher - telling a child to stand on a chair is not a good way of letting them know that they must remember to learn their six times table! 
However, there are some memories that do not feel neatly stored away and can have a pretty strong visceral feel to them. By that I mean they can still be felt acutely within our emotional and physical selves. They intrude on our day to day and can leave us responding to events in the here and now as if we were back at that time. They can play a part in our ongoing distress. 
This therapy helps the person to soften these memories and allow them to be placed in the long-term memory bank so that the person can bring them to mind as and when he or she wishes to. 
In EMDR the person works with the therapist to decide on which memories are relevant to work on. The memory in all its forms - a picture (if there is one), feelings and physical sensations - is brought to the attention of the person. They use this as their springboard, at which point they follow the movements of the therapist’s fingers, going from side to side. This allows for the brain to process it in what we call ‘the working memory’. 
When we have physical illness or damage, like breaking a leg for instance, the body looks to heal; likewise the brain is always looking to do the same thing , which is to seek balanced emotional and psychological wellbeing and EMDR prompts this process to take place. 
For more information go to 
I’ve just been out for a walk because my mind was busy. It really was all over the place thinking about work, family and even (although I hate to admit it) Christmas! 
I had been trying to walk mindfully but the harder I tried the further away a quieter mind seemed. That was until my eyes spotted some conkers on the road. I stopped and picked up a few. I love conkers. I love their colour, the feel of them, the patterns in them. I find it fascinating to open a prickly ‘conker coat’ to find a perfect conker on the inside. Without realising and without trying too hard I spent a mindful 10 minutes with conkers. 
I've collected a few and put them in a bowl in the house and over the next few days I’m going to use them as the focus of my mindful practice. 
As they dry out I might even relive my childhood by playing conkers friends and that’s something I haven’t done for years! 
The Reading Well scheme is designed to help folk use reading to understand and manage their mental health and wellbeing. 
The scheme includes books on specific problems and there is even a list of books aimed at giving us a “mood boost”. 
All the recommended books have been endorsed by health professionals and the books should be available from your local library. 
If you fancy giving the scheme a go then go to 
And … don’t forget, libraries offer so much more that books these days. They are great places to go if you would like to explore your family history or join a reading group. They often have free Wi-Fi and run a variety of clubs and groups for all ages of the community. 
If I’d had a camera following me around yesterday morning, I suspect that by now I would be trending on social media under the category of ‘spectacular falls’.  
You see yesterday morning I fell off the treadmill in the gym. For a second or two I lost my concentration and the next thing I knew I was on the floor at the end of the machine. 
I was embarrassed, my heart was racing and my face was bright red; I felt very foolish . . .  
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