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EMDR Trauma Therapy

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is a powerful method of psychotherapy that incorporates left to right eye movements or other forms of bilateral stimulation into a comprehensive treatment. It helps people heal from traumatic events as well as, life disturbing experiences. EMDR has gotten worldwide attention for helping millions of people heal from PTSD caused from traumatic events such as; rape, sexual abuse, auto accidents and combat. But EMDR can also help people who feel distress in their lives to heal and feel more whole after events that have been disturbing such as; divorce, life transitions, grief, anxiety, and much more.


When people are experiencing distress  in their lives and can't find a way to fix it on their own they end up coming in for EMDR therapy. Sometimes events happen in a person's life and he/she struggles to find a way to integrate that incident. That event can become an unprocessed memory and get stored in the brain creating symptoms that are uncomfortable. Physical sensations, emotions, thoughts, and images associated with the event can get locked into the brain, and without treatment, may lead to distressing symptoms and behaviors.


EMDR is designed to help a person identify and process these stuck pieces so that the symptoms can decrease and once can feel more alive and less distressed. EMDR helps facilitate the activation of the brain's inherent system to process and integrate the information that got stored or stuck. EMDR will not erase the memory; rather you will be able to remember the story without all the emotional charge that was distressing before treatment.  

What Kind of Problems Can EMDR Treat?

Scientific research has established EMDR as effective for post traumatic stress. However, clinicians also have reported success using EMDR in treatment of the following conditions:

*personality disorders

*panic attacks

*complicated grief

*dissociative disorders

*disturbing memories


*pain disorders

*eating disorders

*performance anxiety

*stress reduction


*sexual and/or physical abuse

*body dysmorphic disorders

What is the Actual EMDR Session Like?

During EMDR, I will work with a client to identify a specific problem as the focus of the treatment session. The client calls to mind the disturbing issue or event, what was seen, felt, heard, thought, etc., and what thoughts and beliefs are currently held about that event.


While the client is focusing on the disturbing material, I will facilitate bilateral stimulation of the brain. Some therapists use left to right eye movements or another form of bilateral stimulation such as alternate tapping of a client's knees or shoulders. I prefer to have my client hold small paddles or "buzzers" in each hand that will vibrate alternately from left to right. While I am facilitating the bilateral stimulation, the client  just notices whatever comes to mind without making any effort to control direction or content.

Each person will process information uniquely, based on personal experiences and values. Sets of bilateral stimulation are continued until the memory becomes less disturbing and is associated with positive thoughts and beliefs about one's self; for example, "I did the best I could." During EMDR, the client may experience intense emotions, but by the end of the session, most people report a great reduction in the level of disturbance.

How Long Does EMDR Take?

One or more sessions are required for me to understand the nature of the problem and to decide whether EMDR is an appropriate treatment. I will also discuss EMDR more fully and provide an opportunity to answer questions about the method. A typical EMDR session lasts from 60 to 90 minutes. The type of problem, life circumstances, and the amount of previous trauma will determine how many treatment sessions are necessary. As a general rule, a more recent single-incident trauma will require less sessions than complex trauma situations which occurred repeatedly over the course of one's life time involving significant caregivers and relationships. 

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