What is EMDR?

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, commonly called EMDR, is a type of therapy that uses sensory input to help individuals recover from PTSD and trauma. This therapy is actually derived from cognitive behavioral therapy, CBT. Like CBT, the method typically provides great results.


When you are in distress, such as the distress caused by traumatic events, your emotional processes are blocked. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing works to unblock these emotions. In essence, it reprograms your brain to heal from your trauma and the resulting emotional problems. EMDR helps you overcome fear and pain in order to live a more normal daily life. In the process, your self-esteem also improves.

Methods of EMDR

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing involves use of multiple methods, specifically eye movements, audio stimulation and hand tapping or bell ringing. This therapy requires specialized knowledge and training. This makes it critical that it is only provided by licensed psychologists and other mental health professionals.

EMDR takes place through eight treatment phases. These phases focus on your past, present and future to eliminate your association with specific events and symptoms. Furthermore, as you proceed through your therapy, you work through your trauma and develop new coping skills for dealing with stress in the future.

Phase 1: Recalling Your History

Recalling your history is important toward development of a complete treatment plan. This plan will target your most difficult memories and incidents. These incidents may come from your childhood or tie to specific conditions you suffer today, such as panic disorder or PTSD.

Phase 2: Preparation

In this phase, you learn methods for coping with your symptoms.

Phase 3 to 6: Assessment, Desensitization, Installation and Body Scan

These phases are the toughest. You typically choose one of your memory or trauma targets at a time, on which to focus. Additionally, you start with visualization and describing your feelings about this event or memory. Then, you identify your positive and negative beliefs about yourself in relation to this mental image. Finally, with stimulation occurring at the same time, you rate the validity of your memory-related beliefs.

Phase 7: Closure

This phase involves your therapist discussing your progress and how to maintain it.

Phase 8: Reevaluation

Through a review of your treatment goals and discussion of your progress, you determine how well you have achieved your goals. You also decide whether to continue using EMDR for other Phase 1 identified targets.

Conditions EMDR Treats

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing was once only used for treatment of trauma. But research indicates its usefulness in treating other mental health conditions, too.

EMDR may work for you if you suffer any of the following conditions:

  • Addictions
  • Phobias
  • Chronic pain
  • Depression
  • Panic disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • Panic attacks
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Self-esteem problems

EMDR works well on its own for some mental health concerns. It also benefits individuals when used in conjunction with other treatment methods like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

Will EMDR work for me?

If you live in North Carolina and struggle with depression, anxiety, stress, self-esteem, or other mental health conditions, EMDR may work for you. The first step to your own treatment is visiting a licensed therapist from Greene Psychology Group in Raleigh, NC. Also, we provide teletherapy for patients throughout North Carolina and in-person visits at our Raleigh office. Lastly, call us today at 919-205-5339 for scheduling.

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