University to Launch 'World First' Psychotherapy Course

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The University of Worcester will launch a world-first in postgraduate education this year – a Masters course in Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) psychotherapy.

EMDR – a technique first developed by American psychologist Francine Shapiro in the late 1980s – is used to alleviate the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and to treat those who have experienced severe trauma.

The process works by encouraging patients to recall distressing memories, before a therapist prompts a series of side-to-side eye movements, with evidence suggesting that these specific movements lead to traumatic memories losing their intensity. Along with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), EMDR is recommended for treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder by the World Health Organisation.

Senior Lecturer in Psychology and world-renowned EMDR expert, Dr Derek Farrell, will lead the course, which will provide professionals already working with trauma victims the opportunity to develop their knowledge.

Dr Farrell, an EMDR Europe Accredited Trainer, has worked alongside the Ministry of Defence and the United Nations on EMDR training, and has also trained psychologists working in the midst of some of the worst humanitarian disasters of the last two decades, including Typhoon Haiyan, which caused devastation in the Philippines last November.

He explains: “The course is a world first – there are modules offering EMDR training, but nothing yet at Masters level. We will be offering mental health professionals – such as psychologists, psychiatrists and mental health nurses – the chance to expand their skillset and offer a suite of therapies in accordance with National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines.

“One of the things that we have really been able to step up here is the research interface. We’re expanding our training, but also looking at developing research and capacity building both here and in the other countries we’re involved with.

“It’s a major policy to be able to develop high quality research in the subject.”

Dr Tim Jones, Head of Psychological Sciences, adds: “The fact that the course is a world first, and is led by someone as experienced and respected as Derek, makes it a very exciting and dynamic addition to the department.

“As a member of EMDR Europe, Derek will be able to give an international steer on the development of EMDR in the UK in order to further develop clinical practice among professionals already working with trauma victims.”