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EMDR Therapy

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an evidence-based integrative psychotherapy for trauma and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). EMDR therapy views incomplete processing and maladaptive encoding of life events as the cause of pathology. When those memories are triggered, the emotions, thoughts, beliefs, and physical sensations from past experiences get stirred up and cause symptoms of PTSD, psychiatric disorders, behavioral problems, and somatic symptoms.

What Is EMDR Therapy?

EMDR therapy focuses on unlocking stored, unresolved memories, adaptively reprocessing the information, and eliminating problematic symptoms. EMDR targets memories that get neurologically “stuck” using bilateral (left to right) stimulation in the form of eye movements, tones, and vibrations. The bilateral stimulation helps the brain reprocess the material. The memory is stored properly through reprocessing without the intense physical, emotional, and sensory symptoms. Along with other elements of EMDR therapy, the events are neutralized as the brain integrates new positive thoughts and perspectives of empowerment, resilience, and self-worth.

How It Works

How EMDR Therapy Works

EMDR therapy usually takes place once or twice a week. The number of sessions needed varies, depending on the person, symptoms, and diagnosis. EMDR therapy uses a structured eight-phase approach that begins with patient history and assessments. You learn specific coping skills to stay grounded in the present and to calm your body and mind. Then, we identify a memory target with a picture, thoughts, body sensations, and emotions to activate the neural network. We use bilateral stimulation (BLS) for reprocessing and promoting a calm state.

When negative life events happen, they can get locked inappropriately in the brain, with the negative event’s original sights, sounds, smells, feelings, and negative thoughts. The memory that is “stuck” can be triggered by current life events, leading to unpleasant emotional symptoms, physical pain, and interpersonal difficulties that you cannot control. This is like a wound that never heals correctly and causes an infection that needs to be brought to the surface and cleaned out to promote healing. Like this wound, memories get stuck and cause current problems. The brain is “unlocked” during the reprocessing phase, using bilateral eye movements and stimulation. Your memories and unconscious material are available to be reprocessed in an adaptive way. The associated negative feelings and body sensations are released. This process provides the path to new positive thoughts, empowerment, and healing.

How EMDR Therapy Helps

Did you know?

The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense “strongly recommended” EMDR for the treatment of trauma (2003; 2010). The American Psychiatric Association (2004) determined EMDR to be an effective treatment for Acute Stress Disorder and PTSD. SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (2001) included EMDR to reduce trauma-related stress, anxiety, and depression. In 2013, WHO (World Health Organization) formally approved the recommendation of EMDR therapy for adults and children with PTSD.

EMDR therapy helps the brain reprocess traumatic memories and allows normal healing to resume. Through EMDR, you restore healthy functioning of the brain, body, and mind. The experience is still remembered, but the symptoms, negative thoughts, and body sensations of the original event are resolved. Healthy thoughts of self, like, “I’m empowered” and “I’m worthy,” are now available. EMDR therapy is an effective and efficient way of helping patients recover from past trauma and other disorders. The goal is for you to restore physical and emotional health, engage in life, and achieve freedom from your past, be in the present, and be prepared for the future. Remember, it is your brain that is doing the work.

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Many of our services can be conducted via phone or video conference – all in compliance with HIPAA privacy standards.

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