Tartan Patterns and Porcelain Ducks: Intuitive EMDR in action


Thanks to Rachael Ward for sharing the following touching client story, inspired by training in September with Laurel Parnell in London in the Attachment-Focused approach to EMDR. (Names and identifying details have been changed.)

I loved the AF approach and one of the reasons is that it has validated some of the things I was instinctively doing, but feeling ‘bad’ for doing them as it was against standard protocol.

One such case was a young woman I saw seven years ago as a client of a Mental Health Service.

She had a diagnosis of NEAD (non epileptic attack disorder) and was suicidal due to the impact it was having in her life.

The Neurologist had done all he could for her and she had received CBT, Psychodynamic therapy and a raft of other interventions that had been unsuccessful at helping reduce the 20+ seizures a day.


Parnell in London Sept 2018

(From r.) James, Sarah, Shawn, Laurel, Jutta, Annabel, Mark.

It’s been a bit of a journey getting here, but with three annual London (and York) events with Laurel Parnell behind us now, and the first successful outings this year of Mark Brayne’s Unleash your EMDR: Release the Magic weekend courses, we now have in place a rich supporting array of trainings to get your advanced EMDR practice truly up and running.

At the top of this post a cheerful picture of our EMDR Focus Facilitator team, with Laurel at the heart and positioned in front of the Mary Ward House Conference Centre where 45 plucky trainees enjoyed three autumn days being inspired by Laurel’s approach to Attachment-Focused EMDR, with daily live demos and a lot of learning.

IMG_20180923_123421And, the enthusiasm for this training is now particularly reassuring, with as many colleagues on the waiting list as were able to attend, highlighting how Laurel’s approach is being increasingly accepted as mainstream EMDR, entirely in accordance with the Standard Protocol as we call it, and turbo-charging work especially with more complex clients. Read more

Unleashing the Magic of EMDR – London, CCPE, April 7/8 2018


Mark Brayne and Annabel McGoldrick explaining left brains (braynes?) and right brains in EMDR.

With a small but select cohort of Attachment-Focused EMDR enthusiasts, a rich and rewarding time was had by all as on the first post-Easter weekend we launched the first of EMDR Focus’s new two-day workshops delivering intense and practical skills training in using EMDR with the most complex clients.

As far as we know, practical and supervised coaching sessions, in the UK at least, are offered only during Parts 1 to 3 of EMDR basic training.

So, drawing generously on the inspiration of Dr Laurel Parnell in the US, our workshop gave experienced EMDR therapists a unique (literally!) opportunity to try out new skills on themselves and each other – for real and with full-length sessions supervised and coached by our new EMDR Focus facilitator support team.

The feedback has been most gratifying – and here are a few quotes to illustrate.

Brilliant! I was staggered at the speed of the modified / simplified protocol.

Plenty of opportunity to practise and get your teeth into the process.

I’d like to say a big thank you for the weekend. I found it so very useful and inspiring. Your passion and enthusiasm is contagious and your knowledge incredible. I feel a lot more confident to use an attachment-focused approach.

It was a wonderful and inspiring weekend – learning on so many levels, and this approach certainly expands the possibilities for EMDR within psychotherapy.

Read more

Attachment-Focused EMDR – Research presented at London conference

It’s been some time in the making, but it was a great pleasure to present to last weekend’s (March 24, 2018) EMDR UK & Ireland annual national conference on Laurel Parnell’s approach to Attachment-Focused EMDR.

Here’s a link to the full presentation, in PDF form and slightly amended for wider public consumption, recognising that some of the slides, especially the pictures, won’t make overly much sense without the attendant explanation in person.

After some controversy over recent years within the EMDR community about the standing of Dr Parnell’s approach to our work, it was particularly rewarding to be able to bring these very positive research results to the conference in the same week that Laurel heard from the EMDR International Association (EMDRIA) in the US that her EMDR training, with its Part III focus on working creatively with attachment, has been unanimously approved by the relevant accreditation committee. Read more

Seriously useful online discussion about using EMDR online

Engaging the technology: therapist and client

A number of EMDR enthusiasts held a comprehensive online discussion early in 2018 on the benefits and challenges of delivering EMDR online, and with thanks to Paul Gebka-Scuffins, we’re posting here a summary of what we explored. Note that various names crop up – their owners will know who they are, but we decided not to include surnames in this public-facing account.

  • We discussed the benefits of the group developing a crib sheet, a list of ‘do’s and don’ts’ to help therapist and clients engage with the technical aspects of preparing and participating in an online EMDR session.
  • It was highlighted by Gary that it was important not to reinvent the wheel and create guidelines that might conflict with ones developed by online governing bodies, e.g. The Association for Counselling and Therapy Online (ACTO). He said we should be cautious.
  • Consensus was that the crib sheet would merely provide a practical informal guide on how to use technology, to engage better in online EMDR therapy and to improve the client experience.
  • We agreed to email Mark with ideas for the crib sheet. Paul agreed to do some fact finding on other online therapy bodies and what they use.
  • Mark suggested it might be good in the future if the EMDR Association partnered with a governing body for online therapy like ACTO, to develop guidelines specific to online EMDR. He said he would mention it at the meeting of the coming week’s meeting of regional reps at the Association national conference.
  • It was noted that it is important that the first online session for clients to go as well as possible, and not be discouraged by technical problems.
  • It is the responsibility of the therapist to have an adequate level of PC/Online literacy before embarking on online EMDR. To make sure equipment is adequate, e.g.

Read more

James Thomas reports from a Parnell Training in New York

James Thomas is an EMDR Focus facilitator in Attachment-Focused EMDR, and recently returned from a five-day training with Laurel Parnell in New York – continuing an annual tradition begun in 2015 when Mark Brayne was the first of our team to join the January training, followed in subsequent years by Shawn Katz and Annabel McGoldrick.

This is his report.

Laurel Parnell in action, with James Thomas in the back row on the right…

It’s January 2018, and after nearly 30 years of working in the mental health field, first as a CBT therapist and latterly with EMDR, I’m in New York with 43 other therapists from the US and Canada joining Laurel Parnell for an advanced workshop on ‘Transforming Trauma with EMDR’.

Already, I’m fascinated, amazed and awed by the power of EMDR in working with, as Bessel van der Kolk puts it, Bodies that Keep the Score.

Our training is held at the Open Center in central Manhattan, more used to hosting courses in meditation teaching and with a serenity to match.

For the next five days, I will listen, observe and especially also practise Laurel’s orientation to EMDR that I have come to admire from my initial introduction to her work in 2014. Read more

Survey Monkey Audit of Attachment-Focused EMDR in Action

-NB – this survey is now closed, but we’ve left it posted here for background info.

Welcome if you’ve landed here as a UK- or Ireland-based EMDR therapist responding to an invitation on JISCmail to take part in a new research project/reflective practice audit of Attachment-Focused EMDR (AF-EMDR) as developed and trained by Dr Laurel Parnell (USA).

To take part in the survey as an EMDR therapist, whether or not you are personally trained in the use of AF-EMDR, please click this link.

Contributions are anonymous and cannot be traced back to any individual respondent or computer.

Results will be collated by Mark Brayne as lead researcher, for preliminary presentation at the forthcoming London Conference of the EMDR Association UK and Ireland (Friday March 24, 1330-1445). A summary will be posted here after the conference.

For background, please find included below the original proposal for a presentation at the conference, adjusted in Feb 2018 to allow for new developments on the research design. Read more

So, what are Laurel Parnell’s advanced EMDR courses like?


As bookings come in for Laurel Parnell’s three-day advanced EMDR training in London in September, I thought it might be useful to copy in here, as a post on EMDR Focus, a reply I’ve just sent to a colleague wondering what actually happens on the workshop.

So, Laurel’s three days is essentially her Part 3, and I’ve now watched and supported her doing this a surprisingly, and rewardingly, large number of times!

She assumes, obviously, a solid basic training and experience in Standard Protocol work, and an interest in working at greater depth with more complex clients, bringing in a very explicit attachment focus.

Each day is structured basically the same. Read more

Some thoughts on Francine Shapiro’s new, 3rd edition EMDR manual.

I’m curious how the EMDR Europe and UK communities will respond to Francine Shapiro’s new, third edition manual of EMDR.

I’ve just finished reading it, on Kindle, and as someone interested especially in the Attachment-Focused approach to EMDR, have a number of points it would be good to see discussed:

  • First, most importantly, I wonder what status this book has in the practice, training, supervision and research of EMDR? Francine Shapiro is the originator of EMDR, and directs the EMDR Institute in the US, a commercial training operation alongside others under the accrediting umbrella of EMDRIA. But to what extent are we in Europe as accredited Consultants, Practitioners (and Trainers) bound by its recommendations, or instructions if that is what they are?
  • To what extent are the revised recommendations in this important handbook based on new (or old) research? For example, Shapiro returns here to her earlier advocacy of EMD without the R for reducing activation relating to a particularly stressful memory, with the instruction when going back to target to remind the client each time of the specific NC and the original picture, something in our training and now as Consultants in supervision we have been expressly told not to do.
  • (I don’t have a problem with the idea of EMD, but given that other approaches to EMDR can be and have been rejected as lacking a research basis, I’m curious how standards apply across the board.)
  • And, following on from that, what were the procedures and processes, transparent or otherwise, that led to this third edition, and to what extent is it “owned” by the wider EMDR community?

Then a number of personal observations on the actual text, if I might. Read more

In Support of EMDR Online – an Internet Discussion

With thanks to my EMDR Consultant colleague Deb Fish for the following article, summarising an online discussion of using the internet and video-conferencing for remote, online EMDR with clients. We spoke in November 2017, and the article appeared shortly afterwards in the house journal of the EMDR Association UK and Ireland EMDR Now.

(Deb works in private practice, and also for the NHS in Dorset, within secondary services, and fuller summary here Some key points from EMDR Online discussion Dec 8 2017.)


In response to a Jiscmail question for do’s and don’ts when offering EMDR therapy online, Mark Brayne, EMDR Europe Consultant, kindly and very deftly organised and chaired a well-structured and informative online discussion – in the process introducing most of the participants to the professional, online platform, called Zoom. Read more