Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR) is a type of therapy specifically designed to help clients address traumatic events through the use of eye movement or other bilateral (both sides) stimulation. This type of therapy helps clients find relief from the distressing symptoms and emotional exhaustion that are often the result of disturbing or traumatic life experiences.  Research is teaching us that the brain can actually heal itself from psychological injury much in the same way that the body heals itself from physical trauma.  EMDR therapy helps the brain activate its natural healing abilities, and as a result, distressing symptoms fade allowing clients to experience an improved sense of wellbeing.

Since EMDR therapy is quite a shift from our traditional concepts of individual therapy, the EMDR Institute offers the following analogy:

“When you cut your hand, your body works to close the wound.  If a foreign object or repeated injury irritates the wound, it festers and causes pain.  Once the block is removed, healing resumes.  EMDR therapy demonstrates that a similar sequence of events occurs with mental processes.  The brain’s information processing system naturally moves toward mental health.  If the system is blocked or imbalanced by the impact of a disturbing event, the emotional wound festers and can cause intense suffering.  Once the block is removed, healing resumes.”

EMDR relies more on a client’s ability to “observe” or “notice” certain aspects of their memory, and relies less on their willingness or ability to discuss their thoughts or feelings.  As such, we find that EMDR therapy is well suited for working with clients in law enforcement, combat veterans, or professional first responders whose culture, attitudes and/or training are not well suited for traditional talk therapy.

General Trauma Therapy

Trauma therapy is a form of talk therapy aimed at treating the emotional and mental health consequences of trauma.  Some clients prefer talk therapy over EMDR for a variety of reasons.  

The following populations and issues have achieved positive results with EMDR: 

  • Depression caused by disturbing life experiences

  • Anxiety, especially performance anxiety caused by disturbing life experiences

  • Sexual Abuse/Rape

  • Domestic/Family Violence

  • Grief & Guilt associated with “Line of Duty” deaths

  • Combat & Other Traumatic Exposure

  • Crime Victims

  • Victims of Natural or Man-Made Disasters

  • Secondary Trauma or Vicarious Traumatization


By D L (Through your eyes) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons