Trauma Therapy

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

What is EMDR?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) was developed to help victims of trauma, including those suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. EMDR has been extensively researched and is recognized as an effective form of treatment for victims of trauma by multiple organizations including the American Psychiatric Association, the Department of Defense, and the World Health Organization.

EMDR has also been shown to be helpful in conditions including anxiety, panic attacks, phobias, complicated grief, disturbing memories, depression, low self-esteem, stress, pain disorders, and performance anxiety.

How Does EMDR Work?

When a disturbing event occurs, the brain can become overloaded, and, consequently, the event is stored in the brain in a “frozen” or unprocessed form. As a result, even if the event occurred a long time ago, it can be triggered by current circumstances, resulting in a present experiencing of the negative emotions, sensations, or beliefs associated with the disturbing event. EMDR unlocks the natural healing mechanism of the brain to store the memory in a more adaptive and healthy way. With EMDR treatment, the distressing memory loses its intensity, so although the event is still remembered, it is less upsetting.

What to Expect in an EMDR Session

In EMDR, the therapist will help clients identify memories that may contribute to current difficulties. The EMDR therapist will then guide clients through reprocessing of the event, which involves thinking about the disturbing event while adding bilateral stimulation of the brain (eye movements or taps) to naturally facilitate the memory being stored in a healthy way. EMDR is not hypnosis and you will remain fully in control, alert, and awake throughout the process. EMDR can also be adapted to include play therapy to help children feel safe and comfortable.