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The Power of EMDR for Anxiety Disorders

Updated: May 4, 2023


According to the American Psychological Association (APA), people suffering from anxiety may experience a range of disturbing symptoms including stomach cramping, heart palpitations and shaky hands. While not always connected, anxiety can bring forth intense emotions, and for many, those intense feelings prevent them from performing at their peak. But with new forms of therapy like EMDR, it is possible to overcome symptoms of anxiety and start to target the root cause.

Reducing anxiety and enhancing physical performance by using an advanced version of EMDR: a pilot study

In 1990 Dr Joseph Goldberg noticed that moving the eyes a certain way, back and forth, while imagining distressing images seemed to reduce anxiety and also enhance my physical performance. Since this discovery, he developed Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing or EMDR, a relatively new, nontraditional therapy method.

EMDR has become one of the most researched treatment modalities

EMDR has been found to have been useful in treatment modalities as wide-ranging as:

  1. Anxiety

  2. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

  3. Substance Use Disorders

  4. Schizophrenia

  5. Substance Addiction

But with so many people being diagnosed with anxiety yearly, EMDR is a helpful modality of therapy that gets to the root cause of anxiety- the brain.

EMDR Treatment for Anxiety: How it Works


EMDR is considered safe and effective for anxiety. One of the benefits of EMDR is that the patient, with the support of a mental health professional, can reimagine a memory that has historically caused deep-rooted anxiety. There are usually cognitive symptoms as well as physical symptoms as a client may still be experiencing even with anxiety medication. Through bilateral stimulation of the brain through rapid eye movement, a therapist is able to help the patient work through anxiety-driven memories and come through the therapy able to experience those same memories but without the cognitive and physical sensations that had one been debilitating to them.

Overcoming Anxiety Disorders Through EMDR Therapy

There has been incredible symptom reduction in people who were responsive to this method. One client had to work full-time to make ends meet and struggled with severe anxiety that was not responding to medication. Through the utilization of EMDR treatment the client was able to alleviate anxiety symptoms related to post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, relationship issues, and chronic overwhelm.

One day, after a particularly anxious and fearful period the client asked to been seen for a session. She told her therapist that she wanted to work through a really difficult and distressing situation, and needed an emergency therapy session. EMDR helped her tremendously by not only easing up symptoms but also helping her reintegrate into society.

The Eight Phases of EMDR

EMDR is typically delivered over a four to six-session window. The therapist works through every phase of the client's experience. The therapist guides the client to regain control over their emotional state. In doing so, the therapist is able to reduce the intensity of symptoms. This may allow a client to access more positive cognitions.

What is EDMR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)?

In 1987 psychologist Francine Shapiro realized that using eye movements (EMDR) to help clients recover from distressing life experiences can help them access parts of themselves, particularly parts of themselves that traditional talk therapies and prolonged Exposure and reEvaluation (PE) (or in Shapiro terms, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) may not reach. Shapiro felt that eye movements could be useful to clients with a range of somatic distress.

Anxiety is the Most Common Mental Disorder

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), an estimated 48 million adults—about 16% of the adult population experience anxiety at some point in time.

According to 2017 Mental Health Treatment Planning and Policy for the United States (MHTPRAS, 2016), the leading causes of anxiety include:

  1. A.T. for Anxiety

  2. General anxiety

  3. Social Phobia

  4. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (O.C.D.)

  5. General Anxiety: The Anxiolytic Treatment

  6. The Antidepressant Treatment.

How does EMDR work for your anxiety?


EMDR can be used on any person who is experiencing an anxious memory. While you can't always change the emotions and images it causes, we can change the way a client feels when they are reminded of a disturbing memory or thought. By helping the patient reach a positive state, we can effectively help them to access their positive memory that can combat the anxious thoughts associated.

Induction of anxiety

Anxiety can manifest in a variety of ways, from nervousness to a sense of impending doom to outright panic. While anxious, you can feel as though life is out to get you at every corner and at every turn. While treating anxiety disorders with EMDR therapy, the mental health professional will ask the patient to begin thinking of events or situations that cause anxiety in the body.

Additional Benefits

There is no need to re-traumatize your body – EMDR is considered safe for anyone who has experienced anxiety. There are even studies that have found no negative effects from this in people with a range of mental illnesses, including depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. EMDR is considered safe for almost everyone who has experienced anxiety. An EMDR Treatment for Depression – while not always successful at extending a person's anxiety-free period and relieving symptoms, this method has been proven to help those suffering from depression as well as other somatic symptoms, including headaches and sweaty hands (Ogden, 2000; Pain, 2005).

Processing anxiety with EMDR helps the client regain control over their emotional state

EMDR can also potentially help you work through trauma- and relationship-related issues so they no longer interfere with daily living and/or other similar coping skills and/or for other targeted symptoms as needed. EMDR is typically employed in combination with talk therapy and/or medications to provide lasting symptom relief.

EMDR Efficacy and the Theories behind it

There are many theories regarding how EMDR works. The basic idea behind this type of psychotherapy is that, like any other type of psychotherapy, it's up for debate as to how it does work. One of the benefits of this type of therapy is that you don't necessarily always need to talk about painful experiences, rather, you can bring up whatever thoughts, memories, and feelings come to mind. In doing so, you can effectively access parts of yourself and gain control over how you go forward from it all.

Want to resolve blockages to your healing? EMDR can help

Re-traumatization and blocks in healing can happen from everyday triggers, even from an imagined or hypothetical situation. You can't always predict or have control over when your brain may be triggered by past trauma, but EMDR can help you to access parts of the past and also gain a clear, adaptive picture of yourself. With regular EMDR therapy, you can begin to gain control over your anxiety and control over your life.


At Change Inc, we offer a variety of methods of therapies to choose from. EMDR therapy can be an excellent choice for overcoming the debilitating effects of anxiety. Our counseling center is conveniently located in Lakewood. And you can visit us for Lakewood EMDR therapy.


Or, if you prefer, we offer online EMDR counseling. So if you are suffering from anxiety call us now to see how we can help you feel better through EMDR Therapy. We're looking forward to helping you feel better.

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