It is normal and encouraged for clients to ask questions when choosing to work with an EMDR therapist. If you wish to ask more about EMDR therapy, please get in touch.

What is EMDR Therapy?

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy. It was developed in 1987 by psychologist Dr. Francine Shapiro initially for treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. However, it has since been successfully adapted to help resolve a wide number of issues.

Dr. Shapiro’s theoretical model is based on the idea that current symptoms are triggered by unresolved traumas, which are ‘locked’ in the nervous system, leaving us open to being triggered by stimuli in our present life, reproducing the original traumatic state. EMDR seems to unlock these unresolved traumatic effects, and allows our system to process and resolve them in a way that is no longer disturbing.

The ‘reprocessing’ aspect of treatment allows us to reinterpret the old material in a new way, letting go of what is no longer valuable about the experience, and allowing the adaptive memory networks of the brain to find new insights and resources.

How does it work?

EMDR is linked to what occurs naturally during REM (rapid eye movement) and deep delta-stage sleep, where the eye movement stimulates cross-processing between the two hemispheres of the brain. When we have disrupted sleep or nightmares, we experience distress. We can look at past trauma as a ‘living nightmare’ that disrupts our experience while we are awake.

During EMDR, the client is asked to bring up the worst part of the traumatic memory, while the clinician ‘re-starts’ bilateral processing in the brain through side-to-side hand movement, audio or hand taps until the client’s distress concerning the event subsides. From there, the same bilateral stimulation is applied to help the client discover new and adaptive ways to view their experience positively.

Is EMDR right for me?

EMDR is not right for everyone. I will do a thorough history, and conduct a medical/psychological screening with you to determine if EMDR is the right treatment. In EMDR, emphasis is placed on determining if your life situation is suited to embarking on treatment, and ensuring you have the tools and resources necessary to see the process through in a safe and effective manner.

Does EMDR really work?

EMDR accelerates the healing process. You should begin to notice positive changes physically, mentally and emotionally within the first few sessions. That said, it can take longer for some people depending on the severity of the issues at hand.  Experiences of several million people worldwide, and a number of scientific studies, have shown that EMDR works!

For further information on EMDR and a bibliography of research, visit this website: The EMDR Institute™ (Founded by Dr. Francine Shapiro)

How many sessions will I need?

The number of sessions depends on the specific problem, your history, and the complexity of the distressing memories. The amount of preparation needed varies from client to client. In most instances, the active processing of memories should begin after one or two sessions. Once EMDR therapy is started, a typical course of treatment is three to ten sessions. Studies show that a single trauma can be processed within three sessions in 80-90% of the clients. The process is normally conducted weekly or every other week. Sessions can run from 60 to 90 minutes (90 minutes have been shown to have best results).

Can any therapist use EMDR with me?

Only a Masters-level therapist who has attended EMDRIA – approved training can use EMDR.

I have completed EMDRIA basic training (Level 1 and Level 2) and am certified to administer EMDR therapy.