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EMDR Therapy

EMDR Therapy—An Evidence-Based Treatment Process For Healing

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) was designed to reduce the distress associated with traumatic memories commonly associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). While EMDR is highly effective in those cases, this treatment is also very helpful for treating anxiety, trauma, phobias, addictions, relational issues, grief, attachment, stress reduction, and performance.

EMDR therapy is an eight-phase treatment process that allows you to recall distressing memories while simultaneously focusing on external stimuli. This is typically done with bilateral stimulation, which involves taps, eye movements, or sounds that help facilitate the therapeutic process.

This helps reprocess and reduce the emotional charge of these memories, making them less distressing and promoting emotional healing and resilience.

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The History Behind EMDR Therapy

EMDR was developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro, an American psychologist, in the late 1980s. She noticed that moving her eyes rapidly from side to side reduced the intensity of her distressing thoughts and memories. This observation led her to explore the potential therapeutic benefits of bilateral stimulation for others.

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Shapiro conducted further research and clinical trials to refine the technique. In 1989, she published the first article about EMDR, detailing its principles and therapeutic effects. As a result, EMDR therapy gained recognition and interest within the psychological community.

Over time, EMDR therapy was subjected to additional research, including clinical trials, further demonstrating its efficacy in treating conditions such as PTSD, other psychological disorders, and emotional distress. As evidence grew, EMDR therapy became an established and respected modality among those who study and practice psychology and psychotherapy. 

Is EMDR Therapy Effective?

In 2014, A review of 24 studies suggested that EMDR therapy aids in relieving emotional distress after someone endures traumatic experiences. It claims that EMDR can work faster and more effectively than trauma-focused CBT. It can also help relieve somatic symptoms like muscle tension. (1)

EMDR tends to work faster than other forms of therapy. Additionally, while other methods involve having you describe and even relive negative events,  EMDR is typically less stressful. It focuses on processing and moving past your trauma instead of retelling and reliving the distressing memories.

Who Can Benefit From EMDR Therapy?

EMDR Treatment can benefit people suffering from various emotional and psychological challenges.

While EMDR is most commonly associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), I use it to treat adults experiencing issues in relationships, as it can help identify and address underlying triggers and emotions that contribute to relational conflicts.

EMDR can enhance your relationships by targeting the underlying emotional triggers and other problems you may be experiencing when interacting with and thinking about your partner. Relationships are very emotional! Using EMDR can help shift your automatic, emotional responses to more adaptive and constructive responses.  By making this shift, you can help eliminate negative assumptions and improve your communication and emotional connection with others.

Phases Of EMDR Treatment And How They Work

EMDR consists of eight phases, which begin the very first time that we meet.  ​

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1. History Taking 


During this phase, your therapist gathers information about your background, current symptoms, and what brings you into therapy.  Your therapist may begin talking to you about how EMDR can be used throughout the therapeutic process and identify target memories or feelings to work on. You will also go over treatment goals.


2. Preparation


This stage involves establishing trust between client and therapist, ensuring emotional stability, and explaining the EMDR therapy process, expectations, and terms thoroughly.  

3. Assessment

During this phase, you and your therapist will identify the event you want to reprocess in addition to the beliefs, feelings, and physical body sensations related to the event. Your physiological and emotional responses associated with each memory or event will be assessed.

Phases 4 to 6 are referred to as the stages of reprocessing and encompass the use of dual attention bilateral stimulation (BLS). Dual attention BLS engages your information processing system while maintaining a focus on the current moment. This can involve eye movements, handheld pulsators, or tapping.

4. Desensitization

Bilateral stimulation is introduced. You will be asked to focus on the target memory while engaging in these bilateral movements (pulsators, lights, or hand vibrators), facilitating the processing and reduction of the negative beliefs and feelings associated with the target memory.

5. Installation

Your therapist will help you replace negative beliefs associated with the traumatic memory with more positive ones. 

6. Body Scan

You are guided to achieve a calm state in your body, free from symptoms related to triggers. Your therapist will encourage you to imagine how you’d want to respond to potential future triggers in a healthier way, reinforcing positive beliefs and emotions.

7. Closure

In this phase of EMDR your therapist will help you return to a state of calm, in the present moment whether the reprocessing is complete or not.  The goal is to leave you feeling grounded and emotionally stable.

8. Reevaluation

Each new session starts with reevaluation to ensure that all targeted memories or events are fully processed and resolved.  Future targets and directions for continued treatment are determined.

Experience A Greater Sense Of Peace With EMDR Therapy

With therapy, you can experience relief from anxiety, traumas, phobias, addiction, or whatever distressing events you may have endured. Tracy Muller Counseling Services can provide support and the resources you need to regain control of your mind — and life.



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