Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

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Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a well-studied, evidence-based treatment that has been primarily used for trauma and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptom management. PTSD patients typically re-experience past trauma as if it is still occurring. This can occur through intrusive memories, nightmares, startling easily, or being emotionally triggered by certain situations that remind the person of the trauma.

EMDR is felt to help the brain finally process and move on from trauma more effectively, providing lasting relief and reduced distress, often within weeks of starting treatment. EMDR also holds promising benefits for many other conditions, including anxiety disorders, depression, OCD, chronic pain, and addictions.

What is EMDR?

As the name implies, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) involves therapist-guided, rhythmic eye movements while in session, usually while being asked to briefly focus on a troubling memory. Other forms of stimulation may be incorporated during the therapy to aid in the process, such as finger tapping, noise/music, or hand sensors. EMDR is usually conducted in weekly sessions, though benefits may be seen in as little as one session!

Who is it for?

EMDR can be appropriate for anyone diagnosed with PTSD. But it can also be considered for any condition associated with distressing recollections, emotions, or fears that are hard to overcome. For example, it may help reduce fear and avoidance of crowds or heights, especially if these fears stem from past negative experiences. Trauma is subjective, and we all carry experiences with us that we may need assistance working through. EMDR may help!


EMDR has been shown to provide benefits more rapidly than other types of trauma-based therapy, and it typically does not involve the need for homework in between sessions. In addition, it may be less stressful than other forms of therapy since it requires less review of the traumatic events.

EMDR Process

Your initial appointment with an EMDR clinician will consist of a comprehensive evaluation, including reviewing psychiatric history and understanding any underlying medical conditions. Mutually agreed-upon goals for treatment will be established. The clinician will strive to identify your strengths and resources at the start of treatment, to help minimize any difficulties and maximize success. The treatment plan can be adjusted as needed, based on many factors, such as tolerance to the interventions, client preferences, new factors identified during therapy, etc.

Frequently Asked Questions

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

As an individual therapy, you can anticipate 6-12 weekly 60-90 minute sessions. However, some benefit may be experienced during the first session.

EMDR can oftentimes be exhausting. We like to schedule at least the first few sessions when you have little going on the rest of the day, and sometimes the following day. Your brain is getting a workout, so drink water, don’t operate heavy machinery, and plan on caring for yourself and taking it easy after your first session. Many times we find that reprocessing continues to your dreams, so do not be alarmed if you have more vivid dreams after your sessions.

EMDR is typically been done in person, but virtual visits are possible, and our clinician does have experience conducting therapy in this fashion

American Psychiatric Association
American Psychological Association
International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence
U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs/Dept. of Defence
The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
World Health Organization