Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)  

By: Jaida Green, LISW 

Eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR) is an evidence-based treatment for conditions related to traumatic experiences and distressing memories. During treatment, the clinician will administer bilateral stimulation to allow clients to revisit traumas mentally while maintaining physical safety. Bilateral stimulation involves stimulation to be administered in a rhythmic left-right pattern with auditory, tactile, or visual stimulation. Doing so rapidly, as the individual is thinking about the traumas, allows the individual to access memories. EMDR differs from traditional psychotherapy methods in that clients aren’t expected to talk deeply about their traumatic experiences, rather allow the conscious and unconscious mind to explore the visual and emotional memories to reprocess the trauma with guidance from the clinician. 

Though there is no magic treatment to completely cure trauma, depending on complexity, EMDR can often provide a significant decrease in distress in a relatively brief period of time. For single-event traumas EMDR can provide noteworthy results in an average of 6-12 sessions. For more intense single-event or complex trauma, treatment can last anywhere from 6 months to 1 year. During treatment, EMDR involves minimal homework and discussion. Regarding its limitations, EMDR was an accidental discovery by Dr. Francine Shapiro and experts aren’t fully sure why exactly it works. Though it’s not known why it works, it’s clear from the research that this method is effective at decreasing the patients self-reported distress.  

If you’re wondering if EMDR may be a treatment you could benefit from, consider speaking with an EMDR trained therapist further about the complexity of your case. Factors to be considered include stability of your life, affect management skills, co-occurring mental health diagnoses, availability for weekly sessions, medical issues (eye issues, epilepsy, and pregnancy), and legal involvement. If you’re interested in EMDR therapy, you may contact our office at (614) 431-1418, or email us at info@eatingandbehavioralhealth.com. You may also find an EMDR trained therapist in this directory.