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Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR)

Is EMDR a psychotherapy?

EMDR is a psychotherapy that can help both child and adult clients feel better more quickly than standard psychotherapy approaches. Originally developed for the treatment of traumatic memories, EMDR is now used with a broad range of problems and is compatible with other types of psychotherapy.

Thinking about EMDR Therapy?

Is EMDR therapy legitimate? 

Over 30 controlled outcome studies have proven EMDR to be effective.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), contains a national registry (NREPP) that includes EMDR as evidence based practice for treatment of PTSD, anxiety, and depression symptoms.

The California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare (2010) found EMDR to be well supported by research evidence in the treatment of trauma for children.

The Department of Veterans Affairs & Department of Defense published a Clinical Practice Guideline (2010) for the Management of Post-Traumatic Stress. EMDR was placed in the category of the most effective PTSD psychotherapies.

How does EMDR work?  

When we are very distressed, the brain’s normal information processing system is interrupted. We can experience a heightened sense of disturbance when reminded of these events – even when we are unaware of the connection.  EMDR helps us store these memories in a healthy manner so that our present day life is not negatively impacted.  Clients typically experience significant improvements in self-esteem, mood, and relationship satisfaction, as well as reduced trauma symptoms.

What does a therapist do during EMDR?  How many sessions does EMDR therapy take? 

Once the therapist and client agree that EMDR would be helpful, the client is asked to focus on a specific event or memory. The client is asked to consider the associated negative thoughts and feelings and supported to develop a positive belief that is more adaptive.  During the process, the therapist utilizes bilateral stimulation (BLS) which can be in the form of tapping, sounds, or eye movements while the client notices what comes to their mind and how their body feels.  The client is not forced to talk about memories in depth if they do not wish to, and is in full control of the session and can stop at any point during the process.

EMDR therapy is usually done within a typical psychotherapy session, although some sessions may be longer.   EMDR can be a stand alone treatment or accompany other forms of treatment including talk therapy.  There are eight phases to EMDR therapy: initial history discovery and treatment planning, preparation, assessment, desensitization, installation, body scan, closure, and then reevaluation.  The number of sessions varies depending on the needs of the client, which will be assessed during the history taking and treatment planning.  EMDR studies have shown, in some cases, to acheive desired results in less time than other therapies. 

“EMDR therapy shows that the mind can, in fact, heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma.  When you cut your hand, your body works to close the wound.  If a foreign object or repeated injury irritates the wound, it festers and causes pain.  Once the block is removed, healing resumes.  EMDR therapy demonstrates that a similar sequence of events occurs with mental processes.  The brain’s information processing system naturally moves toward mental health.  If the system is blocked or imbalanced by the impact of a disturbing event, the emotional wound festers and can cause intense suffering.  Once the block is removed, healing resumes.”  – EMDR Institute

How do I find an EMDR trained therapist?  Can EMDR be done through telehealth?

Many of our therapists at CFCE are fully trained and able to offer EMDR. Meg Clark Soriano, MA, LPC, ACS  is an  Approved Consultant through EMDRIA.

CFCE is providing EMDR services through online therapy and in person, depending on the client’s needs.

For more information about EMDR, see the EMDR International Association.