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Curious about EMDR?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an intervention that has gained significant recognition for its effectiveness in treating trauma and other psychological issues.


Developed by Francine Shapiro in the late 1980s, EMDR has helped individuals find relief from distressing memories and symptoms.


In this blog post, we’ll delve into what EMDR is, how it works, and the various issues it can help address.


What is EMDR?


EMDR is a therapeutic approach designed to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic or negative memories. Unlike traditional talk therapy, EMDR focuses on the brain's natural healing processes, using bilateral stimulation (eye movements, sound, or tactile stimulation)  to help individuals process and integrate distressing experiences.


How Does EMDR Work?


EMDR therapy is based on the idea that  memories can get "stuck" in the brain, preventing proper processing and integration. This can lead to persistent psychological distress and symptoms like anxiety, flashbacks, and nightmares.


EMDR helps reprocess these memories so they can be integrated into the person's normal memory network.


Here’s a breakdown of what you can typically expect during EMDR therapy: 


 1. History and Treatment Planning

The therapist will conduct a history-taking session to understand your background and identify what you would like to address in therapy. 


 2. Preparation

The therapist will explain the EMDR process ensuring you understand what to expect. Relaxation techniques and coping strategies are also taught to help manage any distress that may arise. 

 3. Assessment

We will discuss specific memories to target. You will be asked to focus on a vivid image related to the memory, a negative belief that may be connected to the memory, and associated emotions and physical sensations.


4. Desensitization

You will be asked to focus on the targeted memory and bilateral stimulation will begin. This process is repeated until the memory becomes less distressing.


5. Installation

The therapist will guide you in replacing the negative belief associated with the targeted memory with a positive belief. Bilateral stimulation is used again to strengthen this positive belief.


6. Body Scan

You will be asked to focus on any residual physical sensations related to the traumatic memory. If any distress remains, it is targeted with more bilateral stimulation until neutralized. 

7. Closure

The therapist will ensure you feel stable and safe before ending the session. 


8. Reevaluation

In subsequent sessions, the therapist will evaluate the progress made and identify any new targets for processing.


What Can EMDR Help With?


EMDR is best known for its effectiveness in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but its applications extend beyond trauma. Here are some of the issues EMDR can help with:


1. PTSD and Trauma

EMDR is highly effective in reducing the symptoms of PTSD, including flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety triggered by traumatic memories.


 2. Anxiety and Panic Disorders

EMDR can help individuals manage and reduce generalized anxiety, social anxiety, and panic attacks by addressing the root causes of their anxiety.


3. Depression

By processing distressing memories and negative beliefs, EMDR can help alleviate symptoms of depression and improve overall mood.


4. Phobias

EMDR can be used to reduce the intensity of phobias by targeting the underlying traumatic or distressing experiences that contribute to the fear.


5. Addictions

EMDR can address the traumatic experiences and emotional pain that often underlie addictive behaviours, aiding in addiction recovery.


6. Chronic Pain

Some chronic pain conditions have psychological components. EMDR can help by addressing the emotional distress and trauma associated with chronic pain.


7. Performance Anxiety

Whether it’s in sports, public speaking, or other areas, EMDR can help individuals overcome performance anxiety by reprocessing the fears and negative beliefs that hinder their performance.




EMDR is an intervention that leverages the brain's natural healing processes to help individuals process and integrate distressing memories.


Its approach and use of bilateral stimulation makes it distinct from traditional talk therapy. EMDR has been proven effective for a wide range of psychological issues, from PTSD and anxiety to phobias and chronic pain.


If you or someone you know is struggling with the effects of trauma or other distressing experiences, EMDR may offer the relief and healing needed to move forward.

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