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Hot spring in the forest

EMDR Therapy

What is EMDR?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a treatment modality that works to reduce distress and reprocess disturbing memories. EMDR has been around since the early 1990's when Francine Shapiro discovered that bilateral eye movements help us process distressing events. Because it has been around for such a long time, EMDR has been thoroughly studied and its efficacy is well supported by a breadth of scientific literature.

How Does EMDR Work? 

EMDR works in a few ways. Bilateral eye movements have been proven to reduce distress by decreasing activity in the amygdala, which is often referred to as the "fear center of the brain." In addition to reducing the fear response, bilateral stimulation from eye movements increases activity in both sides of the brain. This process is similar to the natural processing of events that happens during REM sleep. During EMDR sessions, clients tend to report not only reduced fear and anxiety about a particular memory, but they also frequently express new insights, different perspectives, new thoughts, and an overall shift in experience about their target issue.

What Does EMDR Treat?

EMDR is an effective tool for treating both complex trauma and PTSD, anxiety disorders, depression, phobias and panic disorders. It can also be highly effective for addressing future worries and stressors, and for reducing discomfort from disturbing events.

What is an EMDR session like?

While EMDR techniques are universal, the way that I implement them is unique to the needs of each client. There are a few different EMDR treatment protocols - some are used for just reducing distress, while others are used for reducing distress and reprocessing memories. There are also protocols that can be used to enhance positive feelings to assist in grounding and resourcing. In an EMDR session, we will decide on the memory or issue that you would like to work with and check in about your level of safety and comfort in your space. If necessary, we will work to increase your sense of safety.


There are a few different ways to do bilateral stimulation and I will demonstrate a few different options so that you can choose what feels most comfortable. One option is gentle self tapping, and another option is for you to follow my hand with your eyes as I move my fingers from side to side. After each short set of eye movements, I will briefly check in with you about your level of distress, and we will continue until your distress has decreased.  Afterwards we can discuss how the experience was for you and process anything that came up.

How Many Sessions Will I Need?

As with all forms of therapy, the answer to this question is highly individual. Many people begin to feel relief within the first few sessions of EMDR. People with single incident PTSD may find that they reach their therapy goals within a relatively short period of time - possibly within 5-10 sessions. People with more complex trauma may prefer to stay in therapy for a few years or more, though relief tends to begin within the first few sessions.

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