What Is EMDR?

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Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy, or EMDR, is an eight-phase psychotherapy approach that fosters the healing of traumatic events that feel "stuck" by supporting the brain's natural process without having to share details of the event(s). It has been researched extensively and proven effective for the treatment of trauma as well as other mental health diagnoses.

What Issues Can EMDR Treat?

EMDR is used to treat a variety of mental health issues including:

  • Panic attacks
  • Complicated grief
  • Dissociative disorders
  • Disturbing memories
  • Phobias
  • Pain disorders
  • Performance anxiety
  • Stress reduction
  • Addictions
  • Sexual and/or Physical abuse
  • Body dysmorphic disorders
  • Personality Disorders

How Exactly Does EMDR Work?

Traumatic experiences hinder the brain's natural processes for storing memories, which often leaves the memory feeling raw and distressing (sounds, images, feelings, smells) as if occurring in the present moment.

This experience negatively impacts your way of handling daily stressors, view of self, and relationships with others.

After a successful EMDR session, the brain can once again process information the way it was designed to, and the person no longer experiences the distress with the memory or feels like that are reliving the trauma.

What is perhaps most interesting about EMDR is that it appears to be very similar to what occurs naturally during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. For this reason, EMDR can be considered a physiologically based therapy that helps individuals deal with distressing events in a novel and less disturbing way.

Your therapist will work with you to ensure you feel seen and heard through out the process. You will be supported to develop tools to manage symptoms, explore contributing experiences to the distress to gain insight, and work through the stages of EMDR in a supportive way.

What are EMDR Sessions Like?

EMDR is an integrative psychotherapy approach that incorporates eight phases of treatment. How long it takes an individual to experience benefits of this therapy depends on their personal history and trust within the therapy room.

Treatment typically targets three different areas: past memories, present disturbance, and future actions. The goal of this treatment is to process information and experiences effectively. Each session aims to leave you with regulated emotions and a new view of self and/or the world that will in turn impact your experience with self and others.

How Long Does it Take EMDR to Work?

It is often helpful for your therapist to have one or two sessions with the you to fully understand the nature of what is happening for you to determine if EMDR therapy will be an appropriate treatment. During these sessions, your therapist will answer any questions you may have about EMDR. Once you and your therapist agree EMDR is the right way to go, you will begin the process in preparing for the next steps.

Sessions typically last between 60 and 90 minutes. How many sessions will be required will be based on the type of problem, personal circumstances and the degree of the trauma. EMDR may be used within a standard “talking” therapy, as an adjunctive therapy with a separate therapist, or as a treatment all by itself.

If you or a loved one is interested in exploring EMDR treatment, please contact us today. We would be happy to speak with you about how we may be able to support you during this time.