EMDR is a type of therapy that uses eye movement to desensitize and reprocess traumatic memories.  It can be used to treat many disorders including anxiety, phobias, depression, sleep problems, and many more. To learn more about EMDR and discuss if it might be a good option for you, click on one of the providers below to schedule a consult.

EMDR is intended as a short-term therapy that helps to reprocess traumatic memories so they no longer impact your life. It’s non-invasive, using a combination of eye movements and other physical techniques to stimulate the areas of the brain responsible for processing traumatic memories. This approach can transform how you remember past experiences, helping you move forward with your life — often without the need for long-term therapy. For some, this approach to trauma is preferable as it minimizes the extent to which people in therapy have to relive and re-experience their trauma through dialogue.

People using EMDR still get all the benefits of talk therapy. Many people prefer EMDR to treat PTSD symptoms as it goes beyond talk therapy, providing support at the biological level as well as the psychological. The process includes space to talk about your issues and work on solutions, but with the added benefit of memory reorganization, which many find transformative.

Most of the time, your body routinely manages new information and experiences without you being aware of it. However, when something out of the ordinary occurs and you are traumatized by an overwhelming event (e.g. a car accident) or by being repeatedly subjected to distress (e.g. childhood neglect), your natural coping mechanism can become overloaded. This overloading can result in disturbing experiences remaining frozen in your brain or being "unprocessed". Such unprocessed memories and feelings are stored in the limbic system of your brain in a "raw" and emotional form, rather than in a verbal “story” mode. This limbic system maintains traumatic memories in an isolated memory network that is associated with emotions and physical sensations, which are disconnected from the brain’s cortex where we use language to store memories. The limbic system’s traumatic memories can be continually triggered when you experience events similar to the difficult experiences you have been through. Often the memory itself is long forgotten, but the painful feelings such as anxiety, panic, anger or despair are continually triggered in the present. Your ability to live in the present and learn from new experiences can therefore become inhibited. EMDR helps create the connections between your brain’s memory networks, enabling your brain to process the traumatic memory in a very natural way.

EMDR utilizes the natural healing ability of your body. After a thorough assessment and development of a treatment plan, you will be asked specific questions about a particular disturbing memory. Eye movements, similar to those during REM sleep, will be recreated simply by asking you to watch the therapist's finger moving backwards and forwards across your visual field. Sometimes, a bar of moving lights is used instead. The eye movements will last for a short while and then stop. You will then be asked to report back on the experiences you have had during each of these sets of eye movements. Experiences during a session may include changes in thoughts, images and feelings. With repeated sets of eye movements, the memory tends to change in such a way that it loses its painful intensity and simply becomes a neutral memory of an event in the past. Other associated memories may also heal at the same time. This linking of related memories can lead to a dramatic and rapid improvement in many aspects of your life.

In addition to its use for the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, EMDR has been successfully used to treat:

  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Depression
  • PTSD
  • Anger
  • Phobias
  • Sleep problems​
  • Grief and loss 
  • ​Addictions

EMDR can accelerate therapy by resolving the impact of your past traumas and allowing you to live more fully in the present. It is not, however, appropriate for everyone. The process is rapid, and any disturbing experiences, if they occur at all, last for a comparatively short period of time. Nevertheless, you need to be aware of, and willing to experience, the strong feelings and disturbing thoughts that sometimes occur during sessions.

EMDR can be brief focused treatment or part of a longer psychotherapy treatment plan. EMDR can be easily integrated with other approaches in which your therapist might be trained, such as Psychodynamic psychotherapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, or Cognitive Behavior Therapy. For best effects, EMDR sessions during the actual reprocessing phases of treatment usually last from 60 to 90 minutes. Positive effects have been seen after one session of EMDR.

During EMDR treatment, you will remain in control, fully alert and wide-awake. This is not a form of hypnosis and you can stop the process at any time. Throughout the session, the therapist will support and facilitate your own self-healing and intervene as little as possible. Reprocessing is usually experienced as something that happens spontaneously, and new connections and insights are felt to arise quite naturally from within. As a result, most people experience EMDR as being a natural and very empowering therapy.

Ready to take the next step?

We have a short questionnaire that will help us match you with the right therapist according to your needs.