This Is What You Need to Know About EMDR Therapy!

Are you looking to overcome past traumas and break free from limiting beliefs?

One treatment that might help is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). From possible benefits to potential drawbacks, here’s what you need to know about EMDR therapy and how it might be able to help you.

What is EMDR Therapy?

EMDR therapy was developed by psychologist Dr. Francine Shapiro in the late 1980s and is a scientifically proven method for treating traumatic events, negative beliefs, difficult emotions, and other distressing psychological experiences. It has gained popularity as an effective treatment for various mental health issues including psychological or emotional trauma, mood issues, and addiction.

How Does EMDR Work?

EMDR Therapy 2 EMDR therapy differs from traditional talk therapy in that it doesn’t solely rely on verbal communication between the therapist and client. Instead, it uses bilateral stimulation techniques such as eye movements, hand taps, or auditory tones to stimulate both sides of the brain while an individual recalls traumatic events or distressing memories. This process helps to integrate unresolved emotions and beliefs associated with these memories into more adaptive thoughts.

This therapy involves identifying the target memory or distressing experience. Once the traumatic event is identified, the therapist asks the client to recall specific details of this experience while simultaneously triggering bilateral stimulation.

The goal of this process is to activate traumatic memories while keeping the body in a state of relaxation through rhythmic movement. This allows clients to safely process repressed emotions and negative self-perceptions related to their past experiences.

As therapy continues, clients are encouraged to process new thoughts or insights before moving on to other traumatic memories or issues in subsequent sessions. This repetition can help individuals by reducing the negative thoughts or sensations associated with a traumatic event.

Part of what makes EMDR an effective therapy is that it follows an eight-phase protocol…

8 Phases of EMDR Therapy

Phase 1: History and Treatment Plan

The therapist will review your clinical history and discuss the reasons you’re seeking treatment. Then the therapist will help you identify specific memories to target, and have you rate your level of distress caused by them. From there, a treatment plan will be created.

Phase 2: Preparation

The therapist will use one of several techniques to help you relax and cope with any emotional reactions that may arise during treatment, and make sure you feel emotionally safe before proceeding. The therapist will also let you know that you can stop the process any time you feel uncomfortable or overwhelmed.

Phase 3: Assessment

During this portion of therapy, you’ll be directed to identify three things associated with the targeted memory:

  • a visual image related to the memory
  • a negative belief about yourself that the memory triggers
  • your emotional reactions and/or any physical sensations associated with the memory

The therapist will also ask you to choose a positive belief about yourself within the context of the distressing memory, even if it isn’t a belief you fully accept at this moment.

Phase 4: Desensitization

As you hold the image from the memory in mind, the EMDR processing begins. After the therapist has done the hand movements (or one of the other types of brain stimulation), you’ll be given the opportunity to share your thoughts. Then you may either resume processing that memory or begin processing another one.

Phase 5: Installation

Here you replace the negative belief you had about yourself with a positive affirmation. For example, a victim of assault may change their beliefs from “I am powerless” to “I am in control.”

Phase 6: Body Scan

During this phase, your therapist will work with you to resolve any remaining physical tension or bodily sensations related to the memory.

Phase 7: Closure

The therapist will provide you with strategies to help you handle any distressing emotions that may come up between sessions. They also may recommend that you write down those thoughts or emotions in a journal so that you can share them in your next session.

Phase 8: Re-evaluation

At the end of each session, the therapist will assess your progress and adjust your treatment plan as needed.

Advantages of EMDR Therapy

One significant advantage of EMDR therapy over traditional talk therapy is the speed at which it can yield results. While traditional therapy may take months or even years to show improvements, studies have shown that EMDR can help provide relief from emotional or psychological trauma after only a few sessions.

Also, EMDR therapy has been found highly effective in treating a wide range of mental health issues and is especially useful for individuals who have difficulty articulating their thoughts and feelings. It also can foster a greater sense of empowerment as clients are actively involved in the process.


Who can benefit from EMDR therapy?

EMDR therapy may be effective for individuals who have experienced various forms of trauma, including childhood abuse, sexual assault, accidents, and natural disasters. It also can be helpful for those who struggle with phobias, grief, or other emotional distress.

Is EMDR therapy evidence-based?

Yes. Multiple research studies have demonstrated its effectiveness in treating trauma-related symptoms. EMDR has been recognized as an evidence-based treatment by organizations such as the American Psychological Association (APA), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Department of Defense (DOD), World Health Organization (WHO), and many others.

How long does it take to see results from EMDR therapy?

The number of sessions needed varies depending on individual circumstances; however, many people report significant relief after just a few sessions. The length of each session may depend on various factors, including the complexity of the traumatic event or any underlying mental health conditions.

Is EMDR therapy suitable for everyone?

EMDR therapy may not be appropriate for individuals with certain medical or mental health conditions that could interfere with the processing of traumatic memories. These will be assessed by a trained therapist during an initial consultation to determine if EMDR therapy is a suitable treatment option.

How can I find an EMDR therapist?

It’s essential to find a qualified and experienced EMDR therapist who has completed an accredited training program. You can search for therapists in your area through the official website of the EMDR International Association (EMDRIA).

Are there any risks associated with EMDR therapy?

As with any form of psychotherapy, there are potential risks involved with EMDR therapy. In some cases, individuals may experience temporary disturbances in thoughts or emotions during or after a session, but these are typically resolved over time or with additional sessions.

Is EMDR therapy covered by insurance?

Many insurance providers cover EMDR therapy. However, coverage varies by provider and plan, so it’s best to check with your specific insurance company before starting EMDR sessions.

Can EMDR therapy be done remotely?

Originally, EMDR therapy was only conducted in person, but now there are options for remote treatment through online video conferencing. However, it’s essential to ensure the therapist you choose has received proper training in providing EMDR remotely.

Is EMDR Right for You?

EMDR therapy has emerged as a promising treatment option for those struggling with various emotional or mental health concerns. It’s been a successful method for reprocessing negative or traumatic memories and has helped many achieve improved emotional well-being.

So, is EMDR right for you?

As with any therapy, it’s recommended that you speak with a medical professional before beginning any treatment.


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These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This content is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to substitute for medical or healthcare advice from a physician, nor is it intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Consult your healthcare provider before beginning a new health regimen.

Keith Rowe