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Note: All of the information and content shared in this blog is intended for general health information and for educational purpose only, and is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.

Understanding EMDR Therapy: A Path to Healing Trauma

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a structured, evidence-based approach designed to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories. Developed by Francine Shapiro in the late 1980s, EMDR has evolved into a widely accepted and effective treatment for trauma and other distressing life experiences.

How Does EMDR Work?

EMDR therapy involves an eight-phase approach, aiming to process and integrate traumatic memories that have been inadequately processed by the brain. The core element of EMDR is bilateral stimulation, typically achieved through specific eye movements, though tapping or auditory tones can also be used.

The Eight Phases of EMDR:

  1. History Taking and Treatment Planning: The therapist gathers a detailed history and creates a treatment plan tailored to the client’s needs.
  2. Preparation: The therapist explains the EMDR process, sets expectations, and helps the client develop coping skills for managing emotional distress.
  3. Assessment: The therapist identifies the target memory to be processed, including the associated negative beliefs and physical sensations.
  4. Desensitization: Using bilateral stimulation, the therapist helps the client process the target memory, reducing its emotional charge.
  5. Installation: Positive beliefs are reinforced to replace the negative ones associated with the trauma.
  6. Body Scan: The client is guided to notice any lingering physical sensations related to the trauma and process them if necessary.
  7. Closure: The therapist ensures the client returns to a stable state, ready to leave the session.
  8. Reevaluation: In subsequent sessions, the therapist checks the progress and identifies any new target memories for processing.

The Science Behind EMDR

Research has shown that EMDR can significantly reduce the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other trauma-related conditions. It is believed that EMDR helps reprocess traumatic memories by stimulating both hemispheres of the brain, which facilitates the integration and resolution of these memories .

Who Can Benefit from EMDR?

EMDR has been successfully used to treat a wide range of conditions beyond PTSD, including:

  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Depression
  • Phobias
  • Chronic pain
  • Complicated grief
  • Addiction
  • Eating disorders

What to Expect During EMDR Therapy

During an EMDR session, clients can expect a structured approach that involves recalling distressing events while focusing on the therapist’s bilateral stimulation method. This process is repeated until the distress associated with the memory is significantly reduced. Sessions typically last between 50 minutes and the number of sessions required can vary based on the complexity and severity of the trauma.

The Benefits of EMDR

One of the key benefits of EMDR is its ability to provide rapid relief from trauma symptoms. Unlike traditional talk therapies, which can take years, EMDR can produce significant improvements in a relatively short period. Clients often report feeling a greater sense of empowerment and reduced emotional distress following EMDR therapy .


EMDR therapy represents a powerful tool for healing trauma and other distressing life experiences. Its structured, evidence-based approach offers hope for those struggling with the lingering effects of traumatic events. If you or someone you know could benefit from EMDR, consider reaching out to explore this transformative therapy.

For more information, you can visit Fannin Counseling.


  1. Shapiro, F. (2018). Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy: Basic Principles, Protocols, and Procedures. Guilford Press.
  2. van der Kolk, B. A. (2014). The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. Penguin Books.
  3. American Psychological Association. (2020). Clinical Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Adults.


Melissa Fannin