Exploratory pedagogical research of a bespoke eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing therapy training for midwives

Julie Elizabeth May McCullough, Patricia Gillen, Paul William Miller, Marlene Sinclair, Rachel Jane Black, Paula Taylor Miller, Derek Patrick Farrell

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Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a transdiagnostic, comprehensive, integrative, evidence‐based treatment intervention for post‐traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), complex PTSD, and perinatal PTSD. PTSD can arise from an experience of pregnancy or birth related trauma. Despite this, there is limited availability and access to EMDR therapy within the United Kingdom National Health Service. EMDR is a psychotherapeutic intervention which is usually delivered by highly specialist mental health professionals. However, with such a robust protocol, it is appropriate to consider if other health professionals should be trained to deliver EMDR. Humanitarian trauma capacity‐building projects in a global context have shown that task shifting can assist with addressing unmet mental health therapy needs. Midwives are highly skilled graduates working in the perinatal period who understand that women's emotional health is as important as their physical health. Therefore, it was proposed that EMDR knowledge and skills could be efficiently task shifted to midwives. The aim and objectives were to train midwives to deliver modified EMDR scripted protocols and techniques and explore qualitative and quantitative outcomes of a bespoke EMDR for midwives (EMDR‐m) educational programme. The online training was delivered to the midwives over 4 days with clinical practicums incorporated throughout. Pre and post‐tests demonstrated an increase in their EMDR knowledge, skills and confidence. EMDR Group Supervision provided by three experienced EMDR Accredited Practitioners was mandatory for 6 weeks post‐training and ongoing one‐to‐one supervision was made available. Midwives scored the course 9.6/10 (range 8–10) and described it as ‘amazing’ and ‘invaluable’. Challenges for the future include ring‐fenced time and an appropriate space to deliver the therapy. Those midwives who completed the training have progressed to deliver early EMDR‐m interventions in a perinatal mental health research study in their own Health and Social Care Trust (reported elsewhere).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalMental Health Science
Issue number2
Early online date1 Apr 2024
Publication statusPublished online - 1 Apr 2024


  • midwives
  • EMDR
  • professional education
  • perinatal mental health


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