Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an evidenced-based psychotherapy approach that works quickly and is highly effective for the treatment of trauma and other stubborn mental health concerns. EMDR is a set of standardized protocols that integrates elements from what we know about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), behavioral desensitization, neuroscience, and psychoanalysis. By using bilateral brain stimulation (with simple eye movements, audiotones, or tactile pulsers), EMDR therapy creates the ideal conditions for the brain to integrate upsetting memories into healthy neural networks and heal itself, just as a doctor creates the ideal conditions for the body to heal itself.
When something really upsetting happens, sometimes the memory gets "stuck" in our short-term memory, instead of being saved in our long-term memory. Since the memory was scary and the brain wants to protect us and prevent the scary thing from happening again, the memory is continuously re-activated in similar but safe situations, causing intense waves of emotion that don't fit the current situation. EMDR's desensitization stops your intense emotional response to the memory, and then reprocesses your unhelpful thoughts into a more helpful, truthful understanding, so that you can leave the past in the past and think more clearly in stressful situations now. For example, panic fades to rational observation, grief melts away to the love underneath, and "I should have done something different" becomes "I do the best I can."
My favorite part of my job is seeing the tension, trauma, shame, and fear melt away from the person in front of my eyes, and be replaced with hope, confidence, and peace. EMDR therapy has expanded my understanding of how fast you can experience relief, how deep your healing can go, and how sustainable your change.
Listen to real people who have received EMDR therapy.
EMDR therapy is not suitable for all clients. As we get to know each other, I'll assess for the best treatment, and we'll decide together if EMDR is something you want to try.
EMDR is well supported by peer-reviewed research studies as an effective, evidence-based treatment for many stubborn mental health issues, including: panic attacks, complicated grief, dissociative disorders, disturbing memories, phobias, pain disorders, performance anxiety, stress reduction, addictions, sexual and/or physical abuse, body dysmorphic disorders, personality disorders. Read summaries of the research on effectiveness of EMDR therapy here and here.
Learn more about EMDR therapy at the EMDRIA website.