EMDR Series 1 - Introduction to EMDR

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“You’re telling me that I’m going to watch a ball bounce back and forth on the screen while I think about some disturbing stuff and I’m going to magically feel better?”


This is a regular conversation I have with friends, family members, and prospective clients when they ask what EMDR entails and how it works. I might be mildly biased but I think EMDR is a really powerful therapy modality.

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It was discovered in the late 1980s by Francine Shapiro. While going through her PhD program in literature, she received a cancer diagnosis and, understandably so, was very upset with this news. While out on a walk and watching her feet move back and forth, the disturbing thoughts she was having had reduced. Ipso facto (with more research and studying), EMDR was discovered.

EMDR is different from traditional talk therapy modalities in that the clinician takes the client through 8 structured phases to address thematic issues, such as “I’m worthless” or “I should have done something different,” associated with disturbing experiences. While EMDR is typically thought of as a trauma therapy, it may also be used for a wide variety of mental health concerns including – but not limited to – anxiety, depression, and panic.

EMDR is based on the Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) Model. This model states that memories, both adaptive and maladaptive, are stored and linked to similar neural networks. When a disturbing experience occurs, images, sounds, thoughts, emotions, and body sensations get stuck or can be re-experienced as if the event is happening all over again in the present.

EMDR follows a 3 prong approach to address disturbing experiences or traumas from the past, present, and future triggers. EMDR is unique in that it uses Bilateral Stimulation, or BLS. BLS can be administered through eye movements sweeping back and forth, tapping, or audio tones. BLS essentially replicates REM sleep, which helps our brain digest and reprocess information. Your brain is doing its own healing.

If you are curious to learn more about EMDR or are interested in beginning your EMDR therapy journey, please reach out to me via the Contact Me page on my website. You can also learn more about EMDR as well as additional EMDR therapists in your area by visiting the EMDR International Association’s website here.

Reminder: these blog posts are meant to be purely educational and/or entertainment tools and do NOT replace psychotherapy and/or other medically necessary treatments.

Are you ready to take the first step?