What is EMDR Therapy?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. EMDR is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from different treatment approaches.

How does EMDR work?

EMDR therapy is an integrative psychotherapy method that uses a technique called bilateral stimulation to repeatedly activate opposite sides of the brain. Therapists often use eye movements to facilitate bilateral stimulation. These eye movements mimic the period of sleep referred to as rapid eye movement or REM sleep, and this portion of sleep is frequently considered to be the time when the mind processes the recent events in the person’s life.

EMDR seems to help the brain reprocess the trapped memories in such a way that normal information processing is resumed. Therapists often use EMDR to help clients uncover and process beliefs that developed as the result of relational traumas, or childhood abuse and/or neglect. For a more detailed explanation please visit the EMDR Institute, Inc.

What does EMDR help?

EMDR had been originally established as helpful for PTSD, although it’s been proven useful for treatment in the following conditions:

• Panic Attacks
• Complicated Grief
• Dissociative Orders
• Disturbing Memories
• Phobias
• Pain Disorders
• Performance Anxiety
• Addictions
• Stress Reduction
• Sexual and/or Physical Abuse
• Body Dysmorphic Disorders
• Personality Disorders

Here’s an overview of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy:

EMDR is a psychotherapy approach that helps individuals heal from traumatic memories, distressing life experiences, and emotional distress. It was developed by psychologist Francine Shapiro in the late 1980s and is recognized as an effective treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other trauma-related disorders.

How EMDR Works: EMDR therapy is guided by the Adaptive Information Processing model, which suggests that traumatic experiences can become “stuck” in the brain’s information processing system, leading to unresolved emotions, thoughts, and physical sensations. The goal of EMDR is to facilitate the brain’s natural healing process by helping the client reprocess these traumatic memories in a safe and controlled environment.

The EMDR process involves the following key components:

• Bilateral Stimulation: The therapist guides the client through eye movements or other forms of bilateral stimulation, such as tapping or auditory tones. This bilateral stimulation is believed to facilitate the brain’s information processing and integration of traumatic memories.
• Desensitization: The client is instructed to recall the traumatic memory or distressing experience while engaging in bilateral stimulation. This process allows the memory to become less emotionally charged and intense over time.
• Cognitive Reprocessing: The therapist helps the client identify and challenge negative beliefs or cognitions associated with the traumatic memory, replacing them with more positive and adaptive beliefs.
• Body Scan: The client is guided to notice and process any residual physical sensations or bodily disturbances related to the traumatic memory.
• Closure: At the end of each session, the therapist guides the client through techniques to ensure emotional stability and safety.

EMDR is typically conducted in a structured, eight-phase approach, incorporating elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness, and other therapeutic modalities. It is designed to be a comprehensive approach that addresses the past traumatic experiences, current triggers, and future positive cognitive and behavioral changes.

Research has shown EMDR to be effective in treating various trauma-related conditions, including PTSD, anxiety, depression, and addictions. It is recognized as an evidence-based treatment by several major organizations, including the American Psychological Association (APA), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

EMDR is typically conducted by trained mental health professionals, such as psychologists, counselors, and therapists, who have completed specialized training in this approach.

Click on the link below for a podcast on EMDR

Scroll to Top