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Should You Consider EMDR Therapy?

Updated: Feb 21, 2023



First, you might ask what is EMDR?

EMDR is an initialism of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, which is a psychotherapy treatment designed to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories. EMDR therapy facilitates the accessing and processing of traumatic memories in order to find an adaptive resolution. The goal of this treatment method is to ultimately reformulate negative beliefs, reduce physiological arousal, and minimize distress.


What does it look like?

In the session, the client addresses emotionally distressing or disorganized material in brief sequential doses while simultaneously focusing on an external stimulus. Specifically, the person conducting the therapy will direct the client to use lateral eye movements or hand-tapping for this external stimulus. Typically, this treatment involves eight phases (see below) in which the initial one focuses on client history. Further, once the client is in the Rapid Eye Movement portion, they will focus on a troubling memory and identify the belief about themselves they have associated with the negative memory. Next, the client will formulate a positive belief that they would like to have about themselves. This process is continued as the client focuses on the external stimulus and goes over the memory until the memory is no longer disturbing for the client. Each session usually lasts one hour.

How does it work?

EMDR works by processing trauma with both hemispheres of the brain stimulated. With this method, the positive belief held by the client is installed via bilateral movement to replace the negative belief. The mechanism behind this is considered to be the bilateral stimulation that bypasses the area of the brain blocking the trauma and preventing the left side of the brain from self-soothing. Specifically, EMDR therapy facilitates the accessing of the traumatic memory network in order to enhance information processing and forge new associations between the traumatic memory and more adaptive memories.


The goal?

The ultimate goal of this treatment method is to help clients process previously disturbing memories in a way that leads to a peaceful resolution. Moreover, the client will use the new associations created to eliminate emotional distress involving the trauma, develop cognitive insights, and complete information processing.


The eight phases:

1. History-taking sessions are used to assess the client’s readiness, develop a treatment plan, and identify possible targets for EMDR.

2. Ensuring the client has several ways to handle emotional distress.

3-6. Identifying a target and processing it using EMDR therapy procedures.

7. Logging any related material that may arise outside of the session to determine closure.

8. Examining progress.

Where to find EMDR-trained therapists?

You can use a variety of search methods to find EMDR therapists online at a multitude of institutions, including at TheraVault!



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