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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Whiteside

What is EMDR Therapy?

EMDR (Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) therapy is a form of psychotherapy that specializes in treating emotional disorders and trauma. Developed by psychologist Francine Shapiro in the late 1980s, EMDR therapy involves a series of guided eye movements, sounds, or taps to help clients process memories and emotions.

During the EMDR session, the therapist guides the client through a series of eye movements while they focus on a memory, emotion. or physical sensation. The eye movements stimulate the brain's natural healing processes, allowing the client to process the memory in a more adaptive way.

EMDR therapy is commonly used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but it can also be used to treat other emotional disorders such as anxiety, depression, panic and phobias. EMDR Therapy is relatively short-term, with most clients experiencing significant improvement within 12 one-hour sessions or within a few intensive sessions.

Another benefit of EMDR therapy is the ability to obtain relief with very little recollection or distress. Traditional trauma therapies often involve recalling in-depth memories of the traumatic event while focusing on key details. However, EMDR does not rely on a full narrative of the event and healing can be accomplished without significant focus on the specific details of the event.

Prior to beginning the process of eye movements, sounds, or taps, the therapist will obtain a brief history from the client and guide the client as they identify resources to support relief and healing. Once a target memory/event/sensation has been identified, the desensitization process will begin. During the process, the therapist will support and guide the client towards relief and comfort as uncomfortable feelings subside. The therapist will also address any barriers that may prevent a client from fully processing through their emotion/memory.

Once the client has completed the desensitization process (guided eye movements, sounds, or taps) and reports little to no distress related to the memory or emotion, positive thoughts and feelings will be reinforced and enhanced in order to support continued healing and overall benefits.

EMDR is an extremely beneficial therapeutic modality that supports healing and overall future functioning.

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