What is EMDR?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an extensively researched, effective psychotherapy method proven to help people recover from trauma and other distressing life experiences, including PTSD, anxiety, depression, and panic disorders.

EMDR is different than many other exposure and processing-based trauma therapies in that it does not involve extended exposure or detailed recounting of the trauma, nor are there any homework assignments. EMDR therapy, rather than focusing on changing the emotions, thoughts, or behaviors resulting from the distressing issue, allows the brain to resume its natural healing process. While the client briefly focuses on the traumatic memory, the trained EMDR Therapist guides the client through exercises that initiate bilateral stimulation of the brain, including eye movements and other forms of rhythmic left-right (bilateral) stimulation (e.g., auditory or tactile). Research suggests that this bilateral stimulation effectively reduces the vividness and emotional intensity of the distressing memory.

EMDR therapy uses a structured eight-phase approach that includes:

  • Phase 1: History-taking
  • Phase 2: Preparing the client
  • Phase 3: Assessing the target memory
  • Phase 4: Desensitization
  • Phase 5: Installation
  • Phase 6. Body Scan
  • Phase 7: Closure
  • Phase 8: Evaluating treatment results

It is typically carried out once or twice weekly over six to twelve sessions, though some people experience benefits in as few as three sessions.