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Therapy Session

EMDR Therapy

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy is a structured therapeutic approach used to help individuals process and overcome traumatic memories and associated psychological stress. Developed by Francine Shapiro in the late 1980s, EMDR integrates elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy with bilateral sensory input, such as eye movements, tapping, or auditory tones.

Central to EMDR is a process called bilateral stimulation which involves guided eye movements, hand tapping, or auditory tones to stimulate both sides of the brain. This process is believed to facilitate the reprocessing of traumatic memories.

EMDR therapy follows a structured eight-phase approach that occurs over the span of many therapy sessions:

Therapy Session

1. History Taking

Gathering comprehensive client history to identify traumatic events. Identifying presenting concerns and the connection to past experiences. 


4. Processing

Using bilateral stimulation (eye movement, tapping, and/or audio tones) to reprocess traumatic memories while freely associating from one thought/feeling/image/sensation to the next in 20-30 second rounds. 

Therapy Session

7. Closure

Stabilizing the client and ensuring they leave each session in a state of calm. Debriefing the findings of the processing and strengthening phases could also be accomplished here. 

Couple Meditating

2. Resourcing

Establishing a safe and trusting therapeutic environment as well as practicing grounding exercises, such as breathing, visualization, and acupressure. 


5. Installation

Strengthening positive beliefs related to the memory is done utilizing bilateral simulation. The goal is to adapt how the client processes the memory and the resulting thoughts/feelings/sensations. 

Sitting on Couch

8. Reevaluation

Reviewing progress and addressing any residual issues in subsequent sessions.


3. Target Planning 

Identifying specific memories, establishing baseline emotional responses, and identifying overarching negative beliefs/adaptive beliefs that interconnect the memories in a neural network. 

Meditating on Bed

6. Body Scan

Ensuring residual physical tension associated with the memory is addressed. Scanning the body and engaging in further strengthening of adaptive beliefs until all major body tension is released. 

Applications of EMDR Therapy in Practice:

  1. Trauma and PTSD: EMDR is widely recognized for its effectiveness in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and trauma-related symptoms by helping clients process and integrate traumatic memories.

  2. Anxiety and Panic Disorders: EMDR can reduce the intensity of anxiety and panic attacks by targeting and reprocessing underlying distressing memories.

  3. Depression: EMDR may help alleviate depression by addressing and reframing negative self-beliefs and past experiences contributing to depressive symptoms.

  4. Phobias: By desensitizing clients to the traumatic roots of their phobias, EMDR can reduce irrational fears.

  5. Grief and Loss: EMDR supports individuals in processing complex emotions and memories related to grief and loss, facilitating healthier coping mechanisms.

  6. Addiction and Substance Abuse: EMDR can address the trauma often underlying addictive behaviors, contributing to recovery and relapse prevention.

  7. Performance Anxiety: EMDR can help individuals overcome performance-related stress and anxiety by reprocessing past failures or negative experiences impacting current performance.


In a therapy practice, EMDR offers a powerful, evidence-based approach that can be integrated with other therapeutic modalities to provide comprehensive treatment tailored to individual client needs. Its versatility and efficacy in treating a wide range of psychological issues make it a valuable tool for clinicians aiming to promote healing and resilience in their clients.

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