Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EDMR)

What is Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EDMR)?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a proven and effective approach to treating trauma and related symptoms.

EMDR is based on the premise that when we experience disturbing or traumatic events, the memories of those events are stored differently in the brain than typical memories. They are stored with all the intensity and emotion that was experienced when the event happened. Therefore, when you remember the event, it can be like re-experiencing the trauma all over again. These traumatic memories can be triggered by environmental factors such as smells or noises, and can manifest as intrusive thoughts, hypervigilance nightmares, phobias or irritability.

The goal of EMDR is to reprocess these memories so they become less intense. You will still remember the event, but with successful reprocessing, you won’t feel the intense emotions surrounding the event just by thinking about it. The event also will no longer have so much power over your current thoughts, behaviors and relationships.

EMDR combines elements of many different therapeutic modalities, including cognitive behavioral, body-centered and experiential therapies. Although EMDR is a relatively new psychological treatment method—it was developed in the late 1980s—it is considered highly effective. According to the American Psychiatric Association, this modality may be particularly effective for people who have trouble articulating their trauma because you don’t need to tell your therapist about the trauma to do EMDR Therapy if you don’t want to. Both the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs “strongly recommend” EMDR for the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

EMDR is also used to treat issues other than trauma. It has been proven to be highly effective in treating:

  • Performance anxiety
  • Depression
  • Grief
  • Phobias
  • Affect tolerance
  • Panic attacks
  • Stress

How Does EMDR Work?

During an EMDR session, a skilled therapist uses bilateral stimulation (such as eye movements, hand tapping or audio/tactile stimulation) to open up the brain’s natural pathways to healing. During reprocessing, this physical stimulation helps you stay grounded in the current moment versus going back as intensely into the memory of the traumatic experience.

As treatment progresses, both the experience and the discomfort associated with its memories will begin to wane as you appropriately process the traumatic memories. Eventually, you become more and more desensitized to the trauma, and it can be finally be stored adaptively by the brain.

Effects of EMDR

People who have used EMDR report a sense of freedom from obsession, anxiety, depressing thoughts and the “heaviness” that is associated with being stuck in trauma. Trauma can cause you to avoid an abundance of human interactions because they may stimulate the bad memories. With EMDR, you can finally be free of your trauma, find a clear path forward and begin living a happy and healthy life again.

EMDR is a rapid treatment method and is often used with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for greater efficacy. Schedule a free 15-minute consultation through our secure Client Portal. We can discuss your specific situation and whether Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing might benefit you.

Schedule an Appointment

If you’re ready to schedule your first appointment or would like a 15 minute phone consultation to get to know our providers, you may schedule an appointment through our secure Client Portal or contact us.