EMDR Therapy

Recover from Trauma and PTSD With EMDR Therapy

woman covering her faceEye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy (EMDR)is a psychotherapeutic approach primarily used to help individuals who have experienced trauma—particularly the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder ). According to the EMDR Institute It began in 1987, when clinician Francine Shapiro was walking in the park when she realized that eye movements appeared to decrease the negative emotion associated with her own distressing memories. This began a series of studies which led to EMDR therapy.

Since that time, research has shown EMDR therapy works better than Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in the treatment of trauma memories in clinical practice.

At SMPsychotherapy and Counseling Services, we are dedicated to bringing you the best mental health care available. If you have experienced traumatic events, your SMPsychotherapy counselor can be the EMDR therapist you need to bring significant relief. 

To explore the benefits of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), we will discuss the following. 

  • The Basic Process of EMDR
  • The Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) Model
  • The Phases of EMDR
  • The Effectiveness of EMDR
  • Your Next Steps to Healing and Well-being

By understanding the process and effectiveness of EMDR, you will be prepared to discuss EMDR as a treatment option with your SMPsychotherapy counselor.

The Basic Process of EMDR

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a therapeutic method characterized by an eight-phase framework. One crucial aspect of the EMDR process is the desensitization phase. During this phase, bilateral stimulation, or exercises that make both halves of your brain work together, encourage the reprocessing of distressing memories. One common way to achieve bilateral stimulation is through side-to-side eye movements. 

EMDR treatment values individual preferences and comfort during therapy. This means alternative methods like tapping or using auditory cues might be used, depending on what the client is comfortable with and needs. This flexibility highlights how EMDR puts the client at the center of the therapy, acknowledging the importance of tailoring the experience to make it more effective and comfortable for them.

In the desensitization phase, the therapist encourages the client to focus on specific distressing memories, negative thoughts, negative beliefs, or disturbing events while simultaneously engaging in bilateral stimulation. This dual attention process aims to unlock and reprocess traumatic memories stored in the brain. The bilateral stimulation facilitates the brain’s natural adaptive processing, allowing clients to revisit and restructure traumatic experiences to reduce their emotional intensity and distress.

The therapist and the client work together to choose the most suitable form of bilateral stimulation. This deliberate combination of focusing on distressing memories while using the chosen sensory input kickstarts the adaptive reprocessing of traumatic experiences. By helping the brain naturally integrate and make sense of these memories, bilateral stimulation in EMDR supports the therapeutic goal of reducing the emotional distress linked to past traumas.

The therapist serves as a guide throughout this process, creating a safe and supportive environment to explore the traumatic memories. Through this practice, EMDR seeks to promote the integration of these memories into a reaction that is less emotionally charged and more adaptive. 

The EMDR therapeutic model recognizes the interconnectedness of cognitive, emotional, and sensory experiences in trauma. It offers a systematic and evidence-based approach to help clients alleviate the impact of traumatic memories and promote psychological healing.

Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) Model

woman talking to her patient

The Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) Model is a theoretical foundation for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. The AIP Model is like a guide that helps develop an understanding of how the brain processes and makes sense of traumatic experiences. 

According to the AIP Model, when trauma is experienced, it can disrupt the usual way the brain handles information. If traumatic experiences aren’t processed properly, they can get stuck in a person’s mind, causing ongoing emotional and psychological distress.

EMDR uses the AIP Model as a roadmap to intervene after trauma. The therapy is structured to help process and reprocess traumatic memories, making them more manageable and less distressing.

Phases of EMDR

The EMDR therapy process is like a well-organized journey with eight important phases. Each phase is crucial to moving through a thorough and step-by-step approach addressing a targeted memory and supporting psychological healing.

History-Taking and Treatment Planning: In phase 1 the therapist and the client work together to gather personal history and create a treatment plan. This process sets the foundation for the therapeutic journey, leading to an understanding of a client’s background and identifying important experiences.

Preparation: Building a trusting and secure relationship is the focus here. The therapist explains how EMDR works and makes sure the client is ready for the upcoming exploration of traumatic memories.

Assessment: This phase involves pinpointing specific traumatic memories. The therapist and client work together to identify which memories will be the focus of the desensitization and reprocessing work.

Desensitization: The therapist uses bilateral stimulation, like side-to-side eye movements, to help reprocess distressing memories. The goal is to lessen the emotional intensity tied to these memories and to create a more adaptive and less distressing narrative.

Installation: The focus then shifts to reinforcing positive beliefs and adaptive thoughts. The goal is to integrate a more positive and resilient perspective and to improve overall well-being.

Body Scan: This phase involves assessing body sensations and addressing any remaining physical tension linked to the processed memories.

Closure: The therapist and client work together to ensure the client is stable and grounded before wrapping up the therapeutic work.

Reevaluation: The final phase includes identifying any remaining issues. The purpose is to solidify the therapeutic gains and address any remaining challenges to support long-term treatment effects psychological well-being.


Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) has become well-established as an effective treatment for trauma-related distress backed by rigorous scientific research. Its evidence-based nature and adaptability contribute to its continued prominence in the field of psychotherapy. 

EMDR therapy is endorsed by the World Health Organization, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the American Psychological Association. It has become recognized for its positive outcomes in an array of areas, including the following: 

Treatment of PTSD and Trauma-Related Disorders

Using EMDR to treat PTSD symptoms, significantly reducing symptoms connected to traumatic experiences. EMDR has proven particularly helpful in easing distressing symptoms like intrusive memories, nightmares, and hypervigilance, giving clients a way to regain control over their lives.

Broad Applicability Beyond PTSD

EMDR doesn’t stop at treating PTSD; it’s also shown to be versatile in addressing other psychological conditions. Its therapeutic benefits extend to anxiety disorders, depression, and phobias, demonstrating how EMDR can adapt to different mental health challenges.

Positive Treatment Outcomes

The positive impact of EMDR has been demonstrated across diverse populations and age groups. It isn’t limited to specific demographics, making it a valuable option for people from different backgrounds who’ve experienced trauma.

Neurobiological Mechanisms

Studies suggest that the bilateral stimulation used in EMDR might affect neural processes, helping the brain adaptively reprocess traumatic memories. This combination of psychological and neurobiological perspectives leads to a better understanding of how EMDR brings about therapeutic change.

Long-Term Benefits and Sustainability

EMDR provides both short-term relief and long-term relief. Follow-up interviews with EMDR clients show that the gains achieved through EMDR treatment tend to last. This means individuals acquire lasting tools to cope with the aftermath of trauma, highlighting the potential for lasting positive change and increased resilience.

Your Next Steps to Treatment

happy and smiling woman in a meadowDon’t remain stuck in the traumatic events of your life experience when a proven therapy can help you find relief.

With the use of EMDR as your trauma-focused treatment plan, a better mental health condition can be just a few sessions away. According to the EMDR International Association, “A typical EMDR therapy session lasts from 60-90 minutes. It could take one or several sessions to process one traumatic experience.”

Contact SMPsychotherapy and Counseling Services today to begin your journey of healing and well-being.

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