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About EMDR Therapy

What is EMDR therapy?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an extensively researched, effective psychotherapy method proven to help people recover from trauma and other distressing life experiences, including PTSD, anxiety, depression, and panic disorders.

The American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs/Dept. of DefenseThe Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, and the World Health Organization among many other national and international organizations recognize EMDR therapy as an effective treatment.

Who can benefit from EMDR therapy?

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

  • Anxiety, panic attacks, and phobias

  • Chronic Illness and medical issues

  • Depression and bipolar 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, the beginning sessions will involve discussing what the client wants to work on and improving the client's ability to manage distress.

When ready for the next phases of EMDR therapy, the client will be asked to focus on a specific event. Attention will be given to a negative image, belief, emotion, 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 eight phases to EMDR therapy: initial history discovery and treatment planning, preparation, assessment, desensitization, installation, body scan, closure, and then reevaluation.

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