EMDR therapy is a form of psychotherapy that was created by Francine Shapiro in 1987, and it is used to help people who have experienced trauma. The goal of EMDR therapy is to process the traumatic event so the person can heal from it. It has been found to be an effective treatment for PTSD, anxiety disorders, phobias, and depression. In this article, we will discuss what EMDR therapy is and how it works. If you think EMDR therapy may be right for you, read this article to find out more about what you need to know.

What is EMDR Therapy?

EMDR therapy stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. In this type of therapy, the person will focus on disturbing memories while receiving one of several types of bilateral sensory input, such as side-to-side eye movements. By doing so, the person’s brain begins to reprocess the memory and alleviate the distress associated with it.

EMDR therapy works by allowing a person to access their traumatic memories and then process them in order to let go of any negative feelings that come up when they think about the event or are reminded of it. You can find EMDR therapy in Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, and other larger cities across Australia. Usually, a course of eight sessions is recommended to help the person fully process the event.

How Effective Is EMDR Therapy?

EMDR therapy has been found to be highly effective for people who have experienced trauma or who have anxiety disorders. You may be suspicious of the concept that making eye movements while recalling a terrible incident might assist alleviate painful memories. While specialists aren’t fully sure why the strategy works, some believe it’s because recalling painful situations may seem less emotionally uncomfortable when you’re not paying full attention to them. In other words, the bilateral stimulation (BLS) involved in EMDR provides you something to focus on as you access painful memories and undesired thoughts. This reduces the intensity of your recollection, allowing you to comprehend it without experiencing an overpowering psychological response.

What Conditions Can EMDR Therapy Treat?

EMDR is often advised for patients who have overwhelming traumatic memories and PTSD symptoms. It may be especially beneficial if you have difficulty communicating your trauma with others, even therapists.

  • Depression: EMDR therapy has been found to be helpful in treating depression. It can target the traumatic event that leads to your depressive symptoms, which is important in overcoming it.
  • Anxiety disorders: People with anxiety disorders may experience physical symptoms when they recall a traumatic memory. Because of this, they tend to avoid thinking about their memories because re-experiencing them is often painful. By using EMDR therapy to process the event, you may be able to overcome your anxiety disorder and prevent it from coming up again in the future.
  • Phobias: In a similar way, phobias may develop because an individual has trouble processing a traumatic incident or they try not to think about it in order to avoid their phobia. EMDR therapy may help you access your memory of the event and reprocess it, making it easier to confront your phobia without experiencing too much distress.
  • Eating Disorders: People with eating disorders may use food as a form of comfort and to help them deal with emotions. For this reason, many people with eating disorders attempt to avoid their feelings by obsessing about what they eat. However, if you’re using food as a type of self-soothing behavior, it can actually make your problems worse. EMDR therapy targets the traumatic memories that may be leading to your eating disorder and helps you process them in a healthy way.

How Does EMDR Therapy Work?

EMDR therapy is usually broken down into eight phases. They include:

  • Phase 1 – Treatment Planning: During the initial session, you’ll discuss your concerns with an experienced therapist. You’ll discover what traumatic memories are linked to your present-day distress and then develop a plan for how EMDR therapy will address these memories. The therapist will ask questions about your history in order to identify any previous traumas that led to other problems.
  • Phase 2 – Preparation: During this phase, you’ll practice recalling the traumatic experiences without experiencing too much distress. The therapist will help you identify the emotions that come up when you think about the event and then develop a plan for how to cope with them. 
  • Phase 3 – Assessment: Your therapist will assist you in picking a specific memory to target, as well as any pertinent parts of that experience.
  • Phases 4-7 – Treatment: The traumatic memory will be brought to mind while you stimulate one side of your body (for example, by holding your arm out straight and gently tapping on it with the fingers of your other hand). During this time, you’ll work with your therapist to process what you’re experiencing. This includes thinking about how the event impacted you and considering any feelings that come up as a result of recalling it. You’ll also rate the distress that comes up from 0 to 10, with 0 being no distress and 10 being the worst feelings imaginable. 
  • Phase 8 – Re-evaluation: In this phase, your therapist reassesses your trauma to see how much change has occurred. You’ll discuss what’s different now and whether or not you should continue with EMDR therapy at that time.

Who Can Provide EMDR Therapy?

EMDR therapy is performed by an experienced therapist. It’s often used for treating people with anxiety disorders, phobias, eating disorders, and depression who may be avoiding the feelings connected to past traumas. However, it can also be used to treat PTSD in military personnel or adults who experience single or multiple incidents of violence, abuse, accidents, disasters, or other stressful events. However, it’s not enough for a person to have a degree in psychotherapy. They must also have completed an EMDR training program in order to provide this type of therapy. In addition, they must be supervised by an EMDR-qualified professional while implementing this type of therapy with you.

EMDR has been found to help people with various conditions by relieving symptoms or reducing the frequency they occur. It does this by using bilateral stimulation in various forms–eye movements, sounds, tapping on body parts–to “unlock” memories so you’re not stuck dwelling on them over and over again. This article should have answered your questions about what EMDR therapy is. Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of it.




I've been writing since 2008 about a wide range of topics. I also love making furniture in my spare time, and birdwatching with my wife near our home in southern England.

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