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EMDR Therapy

 

What is EMDR therapy?

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is a form of therapy that helps people heal from trauma or other distressing life experiences. EMDR therapy has been extensively researched and has demonstrated effectiveness for trauma.

 

About EMDR therapy

Our brains have a natural way to recover from traumatic memories and events. This process involves communication between the amygdala (the alarm signal for stressful events), the hippocampus (where safety and danger memories are created and stored), and the prefrontal cortex (which controls behavior and emotion). Some events are so upsetting that the normal communication between these areas becomes blocked and cannot be processed without help. This stress response is part of our natural fight, flight, or freeze response. When distress from a disturbing event remains, the upsetting images, thoughts, and emotions may create feelings of overwhelm, of being back in that moment, or of being "frozen in time." EMDR therapy helps the brain process these memories and allows normal healing to resume. The experience is still remembered, but the fight, flight, or freeze response from the original event is resolved.

 

How is EMDR different from other therapies? 

EMDR therapy does not require talking in detail about the distressing issue, or homework between sessions. EMDR, rather than focusing on changing the emotions, thoughts, or behaviors resulting from the distressing issue, allows the brain to resume its natural healing process. EMDR is designed to activate this natural healing process in the brain through alternating eye movements, sounds, or taps. For many clients, EMDR therapy can be completed in fewer sessions than normal psychotherapy. 

 

Healing Trauma: EMDR patients share their stories

"Something changed the first time I had EMDR and if I could put one word to it ... it would be hope."

 

  

 

Who can benefit from EMDR therapy?

EMDR therapy helps children and adults - all ages. Therapists use EMDR with a wide range of challenges:

  • Anxiety, panic attacks, and phobias
  • Chronic Illness and medical issues
  • Depression and bipolar disorders
  • Dissociative disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Grief and loss
  • Pain
  • Performance anxiety
  • Personality disorders
  • PTSD and other trauma and stress related issues
  • Sexual assault
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Substance abuse and addiction
  • Violence and abuse

 

Experiencing EMDR therapy

After the therapist and client agree that EMDR therapy is a good fit, and begin to work together, the client will be asked to focus on a specific event. Attention will be given to a negative image, belief, and body feeling related to this event, and then to a positive belief that would indicate the issue was resolved. While the client focuses on the upsetting event, the therapist will begin sets of side-to-side eye movements, sounds, or taps. The client will be guided to notice what comes to mind after each set. They may experience shifts in insight or changes in images, feelings, or beliefs regarding the event. The client has full control to stop the therapist at any point, if needed. The sets of eye movements, sounds, or taps are repeated until the event becomes less disturbing.

 

A typical EMDR therapy session lasts from 60-90 minutes. EMDR therapy may be used within a standard talking therapy, as an adjunctive therapy with a separate therapist, or as a treatment all by itself.

  

There are 8 phases to EMDR therapy. To learn more about the individual 8 phases, click here.

 

 

EMDR therapy is recognized as an effective treatment for PTSD by:

For more information regarding these organizational guidelines and reviews on EMDR therapy, click here

 

 

Can EMDR therapy be done without a trained EMDR therapist?

EMDR therapy is a mental health intervention. As such, it should only be offered by properly trained and licensed mental health clinicians. EMDRIA does not condone or support indiscriminate uses of EMDR therapy such as "do-it-yourself" virtual therapy. 

 

 

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