Leone Centre Glossary

Negative Cognition in EMDR

Negative Cognition

Negative cognition is a central concept in Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. It refers to the adverse beliefs and perceptions individuals hold about themselves, which can significantly impact their mental health and well-being.

Self-Perception Challenges

Negative cognition refers to the harmful beliefs about oneself that are often rooted in traumatic memories or experiences. Examples include thoughts like “I am powerless,” “I am unlovable,” or “I am a failure.” These beliefs can affect how individuals perceive themselves and their capabilities, often stemming from traumatic experiences or significant life events.

Role in EMDR

Negative cognition is addressed directly within EMDR therapy, a method designed to help individuals process and reframe traumatic memories. EMDR targets these negative beliefs to transform them into beneficial or neutral cognitions, aiding in emotional and psychological healing.

Key Features and Benefits

  1. Identification: Recognising and articulating negative cognitions is the first step in the EMDR process.
  2. Processing: Through EMDR sessions, these negative beliefs are processed and re-evaluated.
  3. Transformation: The ultimate goal is to shift from negative to empowering or neutral beliefs, enhancing overall mental health.

How it Helps in EMDR

Addressing negative cognition in EMDR helps individuals to reprocess traumatic memories, reducing the emotional distress associated with these beliefs. This can lead to improved self-esteem and a more beneficial outlook on life.

How it Works in EMDR

During EMDR therapy, the individual identifies specific negative cognitions associated with their trauma. Through a series of guided eye movements or other bilateral stimulation methods, these cognitions are processed and gradually replaced with healthier beliefs.


What is negative cognition in EMDR?
Negative cognition in EMDR refers to the harmful self-beliefs that individuals hold, often as a result of trauma, which are targeted for transformation during therapy.
How does EMDR address negative cognition?
EMDR addresses negative cognition by helping individuals reprocess traumatic memories, shifting harmful self-beliefs to more beneficial or neutral ones through guided bilateral stimulation methods.
Can negative cognition be completely eliminated?
While negative cognition may not be completely eliminated, EMDR therapy aims to significantly reduce its impact, transforming these beliefs into more beneficial or neutral ones that support better mental health.


  1. Shapiro, F. (2001). Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR): Basic Principles, Protocols, and Procedures. Guilford Press.
  2. Leeds, A. M. (2009). A Guide to the Standard EMDR Protocols for Clinicians, Supervisors, and Consultants. Springer Publishing Company.
Book Now

Get Started Today
with Leone Centre

Book Now


Call Us

Call us
020 3930 1007

View therapists

View our therapists
Find your match

This glossary provides definitions of various counselling terms and approaches for informational purposes only, without implying endorsement or service provision