Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

What is EMDR Therapy?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a highly sought after type of therapy due to its proven effectiveness in helping people recover from traumatic experiences and emotional distress. Developed in the late 1980s by Francine Shapiro, EMDR helps the brain reprocess “stuck” traumatic memories. In a typical session, the therapist gathers your history, resources you with techniques to manage distress, and identifies specific memories to work on and reprocess.

Through focusing on the cognitive and somatic aspects of the memory, and through eye movements (known as bilateral stimulation), your brain will begin to reprocess the memories and reduce the negative emotional impact that it bears on you in the present.

EMDR can assist individuals with various mental health conditions, benefiting adolescents, teenagers, and adults of all ages. Additionally, some healthcare providers specialize in offering EMDR therapy for children.

Strive Counselling's EMDR Therapy Service. A woman looking directly into the camera, symbolizing empowerment and healing through EMDR therapy.

What conditions does EMDR treat?

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy is a versatile and evidence-based treatment approach that can address a wide range of psychological issues and conditions. Here are some of the key areas where EMDR can be particularly effective:

Trauma & PTSD

Reprocessing traumatic memories.

Reducing symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Depression & Anxiety

Addressing anxiety disorders, including phobias and panic disorders.

Treating depression and other mood-related conditions.

Performance Anxiety

Overcoming performance anxiety in various contexts.

Enhancing athletic and professional performance.

Grief and Loss

  • Working through the stages of grief
  • Coping with the loss of loved ones

Addiction and Substance Use

Addressing underlying trauma related to addiction

Supporting recovery from substance use disorders

Eating Disorders

Treating eating disorders such as binge eating and bulimia

Addressing body image issues and related emotional distress

Chronic Illness and Pain

Managing chronic physical illnesses

Alleviating chronic pain and associated emotional distress

Self Esteem and Identity Issues

Enhancing self-compassion and self-worth

Addressing identity and existential issues

Stress Management

Managing unhelpful stress

Reducing overall emotional distress

The EMDR Process

1. History Taking and Preparation

The therapist gathers a comprehensive history of the client, including their current challenges and any past traumatic experiences. This phase involves identifying specific memories and issues to target during therapy.

The therapist then explains the EMDR process to the client, ensuring they understand what to expect. During this phase, the therapist also teaches relaxation and self-soothing techniques to help the client manage any distress that may arise during sessions.

2. Assessment

In this phase, the therapist and client identify specific memories to target. The therapist assesses the client’s emotional and physical reactions to these memories and establishes baselines for the therapy. This includes identifying:

  • The vivid visual image related to the memory
  • Negative beliefs about oneself connected to the memory
  • Desired positive beliefs
  • Emotions and physical sensations linked to the memory

3. Desensitization

The core of EMDR therapy, this phase involves the use of bilateral stimulation (BLS) to help the client process distressing memories. BLS can include:

  • Eye movements (the client follows the therapist’s fingers moving back and forth)
  • Tapping (the therapist taps on the client’s hands or shoulders)
  • Auditory tones (the client listens to alternating sounds through headphones) The goal is to reduce the intensity of negative emotions associated with the memory.

4. Installation

The therapist helps the client strengthen positive beliefs to replace the negative ones identified earlier. The client focuses on the positive belief while continuing to engage in bilateral stimulation, reinforcing the new, healthier perspective.

5. Body Scan

In this phase, the therapist guides the client to scan their body for any residual tension or discomfort related to the memory. If any sensations remain, these are processed with additional bilateral stimulation until the client feels neutral.

6. Closure and Re-evaluation

At the end of each session, the therapist ensures the client returns to a state of equilibrium. The therapist may use relaxation techniques and encourage the client to keep a log of any thoughts, emotions, or memories that arise between sessions.

At the beginning of subsequent sessions, the therapist and client review the progress made and reevaluate the treatment targets. This phase helps ensure that all aspects of the traumatic memories are processed and that the client is continuing to heal.

Strive Counselling's EMDR Therapy Procedure. Image showing a therapist and a client in an EMDR therapy session, with the client following the therapist's hand movements for bilateral stimulation.

Learn More About The Process

EMDR Therapy offers a powerful and transformative path to healing for those struggling with the impacts of trauma and distressing life experiences. By targeting and reprocessing the root causes of psychological pain, EMDR can facilitate profound emotional and mental health improvements.

Whether you are dealing with long-standing trauma or recent distress, EMDR provides a compassionate, effective, and scientifically validated approach to reclaiming your well-being and vitality.

Let's Start a Conversation