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The Power of EMDR Therapy

Updated: May 4, 2023


Imagine getting straight to the root cause of your trauma, no medication or traditional talk therapy is needed. EMDR is a revolutionary therapy that supports patients using eye movements and tones to help them recall painful or distressing memories. Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing therapy is evidenced to be effective in alleviating psychological distress. While EMDR therapy doesn't completely replace talk therapy or medicine prescribed for mental health conditions, EMDR can help people heal faster by helping them identify disorders and disturbing memories.

What is EMDR? - EMDR Institute

Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR) therapy was developed in 1987 to alleviate psychological distress associated with traumatic experiences and disorders and is evidenced based therapy. It utilizes bilateral stimulation and guided lateral eye movements which help the brain process traumatic memories and associations in healthy brains. Eye movement desensitization therapy is an evidenced-based therapeutic treatment proven to help people faster than traditional treatments.

How Effective Is EMDR?

According to the American Psychiatric Association, your amygdala is a part of your brain that functions as the alarm signal for stressful events. EMDR therapy targets this alarm signal in a very specific way. EMDR therapy uses a multi-phased approach that encourages healing by identifying, assessing, identifying, challenging, and repairing the memory. For patients who suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder

EMDR Protocol

The protocol for EMDR therapy uses a structured multi- pronged protocol:

  • History taking

  • Assessment

  • Desensitization

  • Installation

  • Body scan

  • closure and examining the progress of the treatment.

EMDR often takes multiple sessions to begin to see results. The EMDR therapist will make sure the treatment plan is aligned with the results recorded at the end of each session. The goal is for the patient to experience fewer negative beliefs, physical sensations, PTSD symptoms, and traumatic body sensations.

Why is this treatment used?


Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy was mainly intended for treating post-traumatic stress disorder. But EMDR therapy is sometimes used experimentally to treat mental disorders and other psychological problems. EMDR therapy uses bilateral stimulation (usually eye movements), which dampens the clinician's and patient's emotional response.

History-taking and Treatment Planning

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapies are treatments that stimulate your brain to heal from post traumatic stress disorder, traumatic memories, and other mental illnesses. EMDR therapy uses guided instructions to help your brain identify traumatic triggers. These instructions include eye movement and guided instructions that encourage your brain to heal from traumatic events and increase positive belief. While talk therapy usually helps people heal from mental illnesses and disturbing experiences, research continues to link EMDR therapy to recovery from mental health symptoms like post-traumatic stress disorder and severely traumatic events.

How is EMDR therapy different from other therapies?

EMDR therapy uses a structured eight-phased protocol that helps people identify the traumatic memory and memory components they need to reprocess. The protocol helps people identify the memory components that elicit distress. EMDR therapy differs from eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy because EMDR therapy does not involve extended exposure to emotionally distressing material.

How does EMDR work?


The eye movement desensitization technique (EMDR) activates brain areas that hold painful memories. While stimulating these areas with lasers or electrodes, mental distress caused by painful memories begins to weaken and dissipate. While this therapy will not get rid of the trauma memory, it helps the brain reprocess traumatic memories so that the patient can recall such memories without experiencing the severely damaging effects.

Areas where EMDR is used

Psychotherapies that EMDR can help with include:

  • Cognitive therapies

  • Behavioral therapies

  • Eye movement desensitization reprocessing therapy

  • Stress management therapy

How does EMDR therapy affect the brain?

EMDR therapy differs from other therapies that focus solely on altering the emotions or behaviors resulting from negative events. These therapies tend to rely on medications. Since EMDR helps the brain reprocess memories, an EMDR therapist can help a patient start to see results just through the therapy process alone and without the use of additional medications.

Adaptive Information Processing

The third phase is the recovery of cognitive skills, using techniques like eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), which stimulate the hippocampus. This process involves identifying and isolating memories of distressing incidents. This allows patients to resume their everyday life activities without the bombardment of trauma memories that can hinder one's ability to function.

Validity of Cognition (VOC) scale

In this procedure, the subject is asked to hold different aspects (e.g. memories versus thoughts, beliefs versus feelings, beliefs versus desires) and rate their validity, using standardized procedures. Measures were taken from the validity measure Validity of Cognition (Shapiro & Shapiro, 1981).

What conditions and problems does EMDR treat?

EMDR is an eight-pronged treatment method used to help combat psychological distress associated with mental health disorders. These disorders include anxiety, depression, OCD, chronic pain management, and other mental health conditions. The eight-pronged treatment method is broken up into history taking, assessment, desensitization, installation, body scan, closure and examining the progress of treatment over several sessions.

EMDR Therapy is a Recognized Effective Treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

More than 30,000 mental health professionals have been trained to deliver EMDR therapy since psychologist Francine Shapiro developed it in 1987. After someone has experienced a traumatic event, it is often difficult for that person to process what has happened to them. The EMDR therapy process is extremely powerful in helping patients gain access to memories. It targets the way that trauma is stored in the body so those suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder can finally start to heal from the root cause of their suffering.


If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health challenges and need support, Change Inc. Counseling is here to help. We offer Lakewood EMDR counseling because it works! Please reach out to us if you'd like to see if EMDR therapy is a good fit for you too.

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