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Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

Trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) present a significant challenge, and people struggle with symptoms of these conditions for years even if they seek support through therapy. Because of this significant need, therapy professionals developed an innovative approach called eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). This approach is designed to help people process trauma and achieve significant symptom reduction more quickly. On this page, you can learn more about EMDR therapy and what to expect from this treatment option. 

What Is EMDR?

EMDR is an approach to trauma therapy that utilizes bilateral stimulation through eye movements to reduce the effects of disturbing thoughts, so clients are able to process difficult emotions or memories. This form of therapy was developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro. Dr. Shapiro noticed during therapy sessions that eye movements helped her clients more easily manage their emotions and reduced stress responses when they talked about difficult or traumatic experiences. After years of research and development, therapists now understand that the bilateral eye movements associated with EMDR can be used to reprogram the memory, making it easier for people to process traumatic memories and begin healing after trauma. 

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Who Can EMDR Help?

People who are struggling with very painful memories or beliefs may benefit from EMDR therapy. Specifically, EMDR may be recommended for those who struggle with: 

  • Trauma and PTSD

  • Mood disorders like anxiety and depression

  • Anxiety disorders, including general anxiety, panic attacks, and phobias 

  • Difficulty overcoming grief and loss 

  • Personality disorders 

  • Chronic pain

What Happens During EMDR Sessions? 

Most forms of therapy are flexible and dynamic. That means the therapist adjusts their approach in response to the client’s needs. EMDR is a more structured therapeutic method. There is a specific step-by-step process for conducting EMDR therapy sessions, but they can be broken down into four sections for simplicity:

  • Introduction – these sessions give your therapists an opportunity to review your history and treatment experiences. You will help your therapist identify specific emotions, symptoms, beliefs, and memories that will be addressed in therapy. Then, you’ll work with your therapist to develop a plan for your EMDR sessions. 

  • Preparation – before diving into the difficult and traumatic memories and strong emotions, your therapist will teach you to create a calm place to retreat to in times of distress, develop coping techniques, and connect to these resources when needed. 

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What Happens During EMDR Sessions?  cont.
  • Desensitization – during this part of the process, the therapist guides you to think of the targeted memories and beliefs as you perform bilateral movements. As you continue to revisit these beliefs while performing eye movements, you’ll become desensitized to the negative memories or beliefs usually within just a few sessions.

  • Evaluation – at the end of the session, you’ll evaluate your emotions and physical responses related to traumatic memories or distorted beliefs. If you still experience a heightened negative response, you may process these memories or beliefs in future sessions. If not, you’ll move to the next set of memories or beliefs.

Who Offers EMDR Therapy?

Offering EMDR therapy requires a therapist to receive advanced training. This ensures the treatment is provided consistently and effectively for each person we work with. At Therapeutic Counseling & Consulting, you can schedule EMDR counseling sessions with:

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How Do I Get Started?

When you’re ready to move forward with healing, our team would love to hear from you. You can find out more or schedule an EMDR session using our online inquiry form. If you prefer, you can also call our office at (804) 322-9955 or email We look forward to hearing from you soon. 

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