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Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is an evidenced based psychotherapy that allows individuals to heal from emotional discomfort that resulted from difficult life experiences. It involves focusing on the distressing event while simultaneously engaging in bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements, to stimulate the brain's natural healing processes.  This enables the individual to feel both a cognitive and somatic (bodily) sense of relief and the original memory no longer has the emotional sting attached to it. EMDR has been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and is often used in therapy to alleviate the impact of trauma.

EMDR can treat:

Heightened Stress
Low self-esteem
Difficult Memories
Self-image/eating disorders

What is Bilateral Stimulation?

Bilateral stimulation in EMDR is a therapeutic technique that involves the use of alternating sensory stimulation, that mimics what happens in REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep,  to facilitate the processing of distressing memories or traumatic experiences. This can be achieved through various methods, such as horizontal eye movements, tapping, or auditory tones. The bilateral stimulation helps to stimulate both sides of the brain, allowing for the integration and reprocessing of traumatic memories and reducing the emotional distress associated with them.

How long and how frequent are EMDR sessions?

Sessions are typically 50 minutes long, but in some cases can be extended to 80 minutes.

When doing EMDR, it is best to attend sessions either weekly or every other week. Doing EMDR is like tending to a wound and we don't want to leave it exposed and vulnerable too long between sessions and sometimes we can risk doing so when sessions are less frequent. It is not advised to do EMDR when meeting only once a month. 


What are the 8 phases of EMDR? 

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy consists of 8 phases that are used to guide the process of healing from trauma or distressing experiences. Phase 1 involves history-taking and establishing a therapeutic relationship. In phase 2, the therapist helps the client develop coping skills to manage distress through use of psychoeducation, mindfulness, Ego State Work, inner child work, and practicing skills that will be incorporated in future sessions. It is not uncommon for clients to spend quite a bit of time in phases 1 and 2 before they are ready to move forward.  Phase 3, or the assessment phase, is where you identify a memory to target, along with beliefs, emotions and sensations associated.

During Phases 4 to 6, bilateral stimulation (such as eye movements) is used to activate the brain's natural healing processes and facilitate the reprocessing of traumatic memories. When most people think of EMDR, they are thinking of this step. These phases can take several sessions to work through and are repeated for each identified memory that needs to be addressed. 

Phases 7-8 are designed to ensure client safety after the end of a reprocessing session by utilizing a calming technique to assist the client in feeling collected and in control. Reevaluation, the last phase, is used to open every new session. 

EMDR is designed to address the past, present and future concerns. 

How Effective is EMDR?

According to the EMDR International Association (EMDRIA), multiple sources have reported the effectiveness of EMDR therapy. For instance, a 2013 study by Lee, Gavriel, and Drummond found that in single trauma victims, EMDR effectively reduced PTSD symptoms in 84%-90% of participants. Additionally, a 2015 meta-analysis by Chen, Huang, and Chang observed that EMDR significantly reduced post-traumatic stress symptoms and associated psychological distress. These studies, along with numerous others, provide empirical evidence for the effectiveness of EMDR therapy in treating trauma.

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Both Chelsea and Ariel are trained in EMDR. 

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