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Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

Ongoing research supports positive clinical outcomes showing EMDR therapy as a helpful treatment for disorders such as anxiety, depression, OCD, chronic pain, addictions, and other distressing life experiences.

Blue Eyes

Is EMDR effective?

Shapiro and Forrest (2016) share that more than 7 million people have been treated successfully by 110,000 therapists in 130 countries since 2016.

 

The following national and international organizations recognize EMDR as an effective treatment: the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the U.K. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs/Dept. of Defense, The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, and the World Health Organization among many other national and international organizations.

Recent Research about EMDR - EMDR International Association (emdria.org)

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

  • Dissociative disorders

  • Eating disorders

  • Grief and loss

  • Pain

  • Performance anxiety

  • Personality disorders

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other trauma and stress-related issues

  • Sexual assault

  • Sleep disturbance

  • Substance abuse and addiction

  • Violence and abuse

Experiencing EMDR – What is it like?

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 be more adaptive to the client's well-being.

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 around 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.


EMDR therapy may be used within a standard talking therapy, as adjunctive therapy with a separate therapist, or as a treatment all by itself.

The Stages of EMDR Video

How Long Does EMDR Therapy Take?

A typical EMDR therapy session lasts around 60 minutes. It could take one or several sessions to process one traumatic experience.

The goal of EMDR therapy is to effectively process the traumatic experiences and to instill adaptive beliefs and thoughts. Although EMDR therapy may produce results more rapidly than other forms of therapy, speed is not the goal of therapy, and it is essential to remember that every client has different needs.

 

How is EMDR therapy different from other therapies?

EMDR therapy does not require talking in detail about the distressing event or completing homework between sessions. EMDR therapy allows the brain to resume its natural healing process and resolve unprocessed memories, emotions, or thoughts. For
many clients, EMDR therapy can be completed in fewer sessions than other psychotherapies.

 

How does EMDR therapy affect the brain?

Our brains have a natural way of recovering from traumatic memories and events. When distress from a disturbing event remains, the upsetting images, thoughts, and emotions may create an overwhelming feeling 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.

EMDR International Association Home | EMDR Practitioners (emdria.org)


 

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