EMDR & Spirituality SIG 2022

The SIG in EMDR and Spirituality has been active since March 2019 and currently has 136 members. 

“Spirituality refers to an individual’s or a group’s relationship with the transcendent, however that may be construed.  Spirituality is about the search for transcendent meaning.  Most people express their spirituality in religious practice.  Others express their spirituality exclusively in their relationship with nature, music, the arts, or a set of philosophical beliefs or relationships with friends and family”. (Sulmasy, 2002).

Spirituality isn’t specifically about having a particular religion or belief, although for some this may be the case. Instead, it is the openness or search for a transcendent meaning in life. 

With this understanding the SIG in EMDR & Spirituality has the following aims:

  • To support a BioPsychoSocialSpiritual approach to treating trauma with EMDR clients.
  • To offer a safe, respectful, compassionate, non-judgemental way of supporting colleagues and clients who are open to exploring a spiritual approach in their lives.
  • To support clinicians during their own spiritual journey.  In order to work spiritually with clients, it is important that a clinician is comfortable in their own spirituality as well as what their clients may bring.  Often clinicians are embarking on their own spiritual journey during this time and this will be encouraged and supported within the group.
  • Explore possible research ideas for EMDR spirituality (including mindfulness).
  • To enable the sharing of ideas and resources for working spiritually with EMDR clients.
  • To enable case discussion using a BioPsychoSocialSpiritual approach with EMDR clients.
  • To work within one’s own area of expertise and competence and uphold the requirements and expectations of the EMDR Association.
  • To determine whether specific training or teaching in this area would be beneficial to members and identify ways of providing this.

Whilst the group may attract individuals with a range of spiritual ideas and approaches it is an expectation that clinicians engage with openness, curiosity and integrity to allow them to hear ideas about spirituality without judgement or criticism.

We currently have bimonthly CPD meetings and have covered a variety of topics in the past year including Emotional Contagion, Emotion Focused Therapy, Comprehensive Resource Model, working with refugees and asylum seekers, working with the Yezidi community, and nutrition and Sophrology.

Below, committee member Tony Lacey provides a write up of the Sophrology CPD event and Julie Dorey summarises her presentation on working with asylum seekers and refugees.

Sophrology workshop

Philip Carr-Gomm delivered a workshop on Sophrology on 23rd January 2022. 

Philip is a psychologist and psychotherapist who approximately 10 years ago felt the need to bring the body into his practice more.  He experienced a set of `co-incidences’ where he met two Sophrologists simultaneously and these meetings inspired him to train in the approach. From this point on he has incorporated Sophrology into his practice and more recently has produced a series of online trainings in Sophrology during lockdown.

Brief overview

Sophrology, explained as the study of harmonious consciousness, was developed 60 years ago by a neuropsychiatrist Alfonzo Caycedo. He had been administering Electric Convulsive Therapy (ECT) as a way to change peoples’ consciousness. Alfonzo realised that he was trying to alter peoples’ consciousness without knowing exactly what consciousness was and without any formal training in the area of consciousness. This drove Alfonzo to go on to investigate hypnotism and phenomenology and to travel to India to study consciousness and yoga. He then wrote a book of his studies and spent one year in Japan where he studied Zen Buddhism (ancient traditions) and various meditation practices.  Sophrology derived from learnings in Zen, Yoga, and eastern/ancient traditions, which created an elegant, simple, and clean modality. Alfonzo then started using Sophrology as a treatment approach with those suffering with dental procedure anxiety. Sophrology is open to all faiths and spiritual beliefs and can be used with clients on a one-to-onebasis or used in a group.  It has many different protocols to treat a range of different disorders and is described as a series of exercises to help personal and spiritual development and interestingly helps the mind/body to achieve wellness by calming and energising you at the same time. It is a particularly popular approach in France where Sophrologists are available across many services including social services, in Accident and Emergency departments, in dentistry, by psychologists, in cancer care clinics and in preparation for expectant mothers during pregnancy.

Approach summary

The Sophrology approach involves using certain postures, breathing, movement, visualisation and affirmations and the heart, mind and body are brought into harmony using exercises. It appears to share with EMDR psychotherapy, holistic and integrative views of how to work with people. Paying attention to the body, mind and spiritual connections people have, may aid recovery. 

Sophrology could augment the preparation phase of EMDR and further help clients to self-soothe which may help with processing  in the closing down of incomplete sessions. For participants in the workshop, Sophrology is a modality which appears to align with our views of how self care can enhance our efficacy as practitioners.

For further details about the approach or up and coming trainings visit:

Working with asylum seekers and refugees

Julie Dorey (EMDR practitioner) provided an interesting presentation highlighting some of the complexities of working with asylum seekers and refugees in ensuring that their needs are being fully addressed.  She reminded us of the need for humility and compassion as not all wounds can be healed.  Julie talked about the flexibility that EMDR offers in providing resources drawing on the individual’s own beliefs and personal experiences in enhancing resilience.  Julie provided an insightful illumination of her own spiritual path that came to fruition during an experiential training experience involving MDMA assisted psychotherapy.  This model of therapy draws on Hakomi principles and relies on the body’s own self-healing potential.  Julie concluded by drawing similarities with EMDR’s capacity to allow the individual to process their own material as it becomes available to them. 

If you would like to be part of this specialist interest group please contact me by email info@alexandradent.co.uk and I will send you an email inviting you to join the group. 

  • Dr Alexandra Dent is a registered and chartered clinical psychologist working with individuals across the age span in independent practice in the East Midlands, UK. Areas of interest include trauma, attachment, mindfulness and spirituality.  Alexandra is an active member of the EMDR community and is a Europe Accredited EMDR Child & Adolescent Consultant, EMDR Consultant and Training Facilitator.  She is a past Chair of the EMDR C&A Committee and Chair of the SIG in EMDR & Spirituality. 


Sulmasy, D. P. (2002). A Biopsychosocial-Spiritual model for the care of patients at the end of life.  The Gerontologist, 3) Special Issue III,24 33