What is EMDR therapy?
Introduction to EMDR Therapy
Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) is a well-researched, evidence-based, effective therapy approach for treating people experiencing pain, post-traumatic stress (PTSD), and other trauma-related symptoms. It can also help heal complicated grief, anxiety, as well as everyday struggles, distressing emotions, negative beliefs, challenges in relationships, or difficult life experiences. It was first developed in the late 1980s by Dr. Francine Shapiro. (Source: emdria.org)
VIDEO: Introduction to EMDR Therapy – by the EMDR International Association
What can EMDR help with?
EMDR has been proven to produce improvement and relief for some of the following areas:
Trauma (recent trauma, present trauma, childhood trauma, etc.)
Grief, intense emotional pain (including complex grief)
PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)
Anxiety, panic attacks, phobias
Nightmares, violent flashbacks
Overwhelm, ruminating or intruding thoughts
Mental disorders (such as eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, etc.)
Addiction or substance abuse
Irritation, anger, rage
Sleep problems (trouble falling asleep, insomnia, oversleeping, etc.)
Lack of focus, extreme fatigue, stress, or discomfort in your body
Self-esteem issues or sense of “being lost,” feeling blocked or stuck
Curious to find out if EMDR is right for you? Schedule your free 20-minute consultation by clicking below.
Who is EMDR for?
How do I know
if EMDR is
right for me?
If you have a strong desire and motivation to feel better, it’s likely that EMDR can help you.
EMDR can help almost anyone who is looking to move past a traumatic or painful experience faster than with traditional talk therapy. The key is that you are open to the healing process.
How does EMDR work?
The goal of EMDR therapy is to help people identify and process painful memories and experiences that are impacting their life, relationships, perspectives in a negative way.
Your EMDR therapist will work with you to identify your goals for treatment and your vision for your future. Through a comprehensive evaluation and discussions with you, we will identify what memories, experiences, and beliefs need to be engaged and processed to bring relief from painful emotions and sensations. We will also cultivate new perspectives and a new understanding that will pave your way toward healing and resolution of past, present, and future associated states, memories, and experiences to help you make your vision for your life a reality.
Before we begin to engage any painful memories or experiences for processing, we will spend time making sure you have resources in place that will support and empower you during and after the therapeutic experience.
Once we have identified the target memories for processing and you feel prepared to move forward, we will engage the memories by activating the disturbing content still associated with them. We will then begin bilateral stimulation, either through eye movement, tapping, sound, or all of the above. When this happens, the disturbing aspects of the memory start to experience a rapid change of state, creating an opportunity for your nervous system to desensitize the activation stored with memory and your perspective (or cognitions) to be reframed adaptively, in a way that can serve you well moving forward.
People often report feeling significant relief after an EMDR session, such as feeling liberated, like a weight has been lifted, and empowered rather than weighed down by what has happened to them.
What are the benefits of EMDR (over traditional talk therapy)?
EMDR is different from most traditional therapy (such as talk therapy) for the following reasons:
Accelerated progress and relief:
As little as 1-4 EMDR therapy sessions can bring tremendous relief and almost a “mini transformation” to someone who suffers from a single-incident trauma.
Less drawn out:
Traditional talk therapy is often a lengthy process with weekly sessions (spread out over several months, or even years). With EMDR Intensives, you’ll get a brief period of committed focus to target and relieve your specific struggle(s) and make progress toward your goals.
No rehashing of painful stories:
Talk therapy can be grueling for some people because they must relive painful experiences over and over, which can be traumatic itself. With EMDR, we focus on what is stuck or causing you pain and process it without you having to give details about what happened.
Greater chance at finishing treatment:
Since EMDR therapy requires fewer sessions to resolve traumas or pain, more people can tolerate completing their treatment and achieve their goals. The EMDR intensives format makes it less likely you’ll burn out, lose motivation, or drop-out of therapy.
Immense opportunity for growth and transformation:
EMDR therapy has been shown to help people discover strengths within themselves they had not realized or understood. Many said they felt they went through a powerful transformation, where they came out feeling renewed, empowered and like a weight has been lifted off their bodies!
Unfortunately, we do not live in a country where all members of society are afforded quality mental health access (we need to change that!) Therapy of all types can be costly over time. In the weekly model that insurance companies dictate of 45–55-minute sessions, a lot of time is often used up with “hellos” and “goodbyes,” settling in, as well as sharing updates from the week. It often doesn’t leave much time to safely and securely move into the more tender areas that need attention and healing. While EMDR therapy intensives have a higher upfront investment, the overall cost can be much lower, because we are efficiently focusing our time with a comprehensive therapeutic approach that can help you get resolution now. We also provide cost transparency by giving you clear price points for our services and what you can expect from each.
Clearer achievable goals and timeframes:
EMDR therapy provides you with a “map” of your treatment goals and our plan to meet them.
EMDR therapy is a targeted treatment approach that provides a framework to identify what is at the root of your pain. We can zero in and process those memories, distorted thought patterns you may hold, and the emotions, reactions and experiences impacting you now. The distressing images, beliefs, and sensations connected to past experiences can be rapidly processed, helping you move to a sense of resolution and better alignment with the present. While other therapy methods can be effective too, they often require more “heavy lifting” to bring similar relief and progress.
“EMDR is a therapy accelerator! It’s almost like a healing retreat you can find refuge in for a few hours and come back stronger and lighter.”
But does EMDR really work though?
EMDR therapy has been shown to produce positive results and greatly reduce suffering with just a few sessions.
According to the EMDR Institute, up to 30 controlled outcome studies have shown that up to 90% of single-trauma sufferers report having no more PTSD symptoms after only three (90-minute) sessions. After six (50-minute) sessions, 77% of multi-trauma sufferers, and 100% of single-trauma study participants were PTSD-symptom free thanks to EMDR therapy.
EMDR therapy has helped millions of people over the past few decades.
What happens during a
virtual EMDR session?
If you’ve never had an EMDR session, you may feel a bit nervous or unsure about what will happen. Here’s a quick rundown of what you can expect in our EMDR sessions.
Firstly, we’ll create a positive, relaxed, and comfortable environment for us to work together. Since all of our sessions are fully-virtual, you can create your space 100% to your liking (and we will too!).
EMDR therapy consists of eight phases. We will cover each appropriate phase as we go through your treatment. Read a little about each phase below.
THE 8 PHASES OF EMDR THERAPY:
We’ll talk about your treatment goals, unpleasant events or feelings you experience, any triggers you may have, relevant history, and put together a treatment plan.
We will lay out different treatment tools, such as stress reduction and relaxation techniques, that you can use during and between sessions. These will help you handle emotional stress better and help keep you grounded in your daily life.
Together, we’ll identify and target specific memories or painful events to focus on for the treatment and potentially specific sessions.
(unlinking the bad stuff)
We will work on “unlinking" your negative perceptions and emotional responses to the identified traumatic memory or event.
(re-linking the good stuff)
We’ll work to create a stronger positive connection in your brain related to the event or experience. This will take the place of where previously the distressing feelings were stored.
We’ll do a thorough body scan to check how your brain responded to the “unlinking and re-linking” process, to ensure you can now think of that memory and event and feel calm.
Treatment will wrap up by exploring new insights, or any missed thoughts or connections you may have noticed in relation to your targeted memory or event. We will be checking and reinforcing the self-calming techniques we set up earlier, and explore other resources you may want to utilize or connect with after our session.
We’ll review the progress and insights made thus far and check in about possible future or separate events that may require additional care or attention. We’ll also give you options for continuing treatment if you’d like or provide referrals or resources, as needed.