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Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR, is a form of psychotherapy that has gained popularity in recent years for its effectiveness in treating trauma-related disorders. EMDR therapy has been used to help individuals overcome various types of trauma, such as childhood abuse, sexual assault, accidents, and natural disasters, among others.

Trauma can have a significant impact on an individual’s mental and emotional well-being, leading to symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

These symptoms can manifest in various ways, including nightmares, flashbacks, and a persistent feeling of unease or hypervigilance. Traditional talk therapy may not always be effective in addressing these symptoms, which is where EMDR therapy comes in.

What is EMDR therapy?

EMDR therapy was first developed in the late 1980s by Francine Shapiro, a psychologist who noticed that her own eye movements seemed to reduce the intensity of her negative thoughts and feelings. She later found that this technique could be used to help others overcome traumatic memories and associated symptoms.

The therapy involves a series of steps, which are designed to help the individual process traumatic experiences and reduce the negative impact they have on their life.

EMDR therapy is often used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for trauma-related disorders. It may be used in conjunction with other forms of therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which can help the individual to develop coping strategies and new behaviors that support their recovery.

What happens during an EMDR session?

The first step in EMDR therapy is to identify the specific traumatic memory or event that is causing distress. The therapist then helps the individual to recall this memory while focusing on a bilateral stimulus, such as eye movements, tapping, or sounds. This bilateral stimulation is thought to activate the individual’s brain in a way that helps them process the traumatic memory and reduce its emotional intensity.

During the processing phase, the individual is encouraged to explore their thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations related to the traumatic memory. The therapist may ask questions or offer prompts to help the individual identify and process any negative beliefs or emotions that are associated with the memory.

The bilateral stimulation continues throughout this phase, and the individual is encouraged to let their mind wander and explore any new insights or perspectives that arise.

Finally, the therapist helps the individual to reframe the traumatic memory in a more positive and adaptive way. This may involve identifying any positive beliefs or strengths that were gained from the experience, or imagining a different outcome that would have been more positive.

The bilateral stimulation is continued throughout this phase, which helps to solidify the positive reframing of the traumatic memory.

Benefits of EMDR therapy

One of the key benefits of EMDR therapy is that it can be a relatively short-term form of treatment. While traditional talk therapy may require many sessions over an extended period, EMDR therapy may only require a few sessions to achieve meaningful results. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals who are struggling with acute symptoms, such as flashbacks or nightmares, and need relief quickly.

It is important to note that EMDR therapy is not a one-size-fits-all approach to treating trauma-related disorders. Each individual’s experience of trauma is unique, and therefore their treatment plan should be tailored to their specific needs and goals. An EMDR therapist who is trained and experienced in working with trauma can help to develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses the individual’s unique needs.

EMDR therapists for trauma

Following are some of the best EMDR therapists for trauma that you can explore.

Image Credit: tavistocktherapycentre.co.uk

1. Highland Springs

Highland Springs Specialty Clinic specializes in using EMDR therapy to help clients overcome traumatic events, anxiety, and PTSD. Their specially trained trauma therapists provide state-of-the-art and innovative methods to help clients heal from any symptoms and emotional distress they have experienced. 

As one of the top EMDR trauma therapy treatment centers, Highland Springs offers confidential counseling appointments with EMDR specialists at their various locations. The clinic aims to help clients overcome past trauma and find happiness again. After an EMDR therapy session, patients can expect a decrease in stress levels, relief from traumatic events, vivid dreams, and new memories. While there may be some EMDR side effects, they are usually manageable. To learn more or schedule an appointment with one of Highland Springs’ EMDR specialists, contact them today.

2. Altitude Counseling 

Altitude Counseling is a therapy center in Colorado Springs, CO that specializes in EMDR therapy. Altitude Counseling’s EMDR therapists are trained to work with clients who have experienced trauma and are committed to helping them overcome their struggles. Their experienced EMDR therapists aim to help clients navigate through difficult life events and equip them with the tools they need to succeed. 

The therapy center offers both in-person and online therapy options, providing clients with the flexibility to choose what works best for them. They use EMDR therapy to treat a wide range of conditions including panic attacks, phobias, stress reduction, sexual and/or physical abuse, and more. Clients can fill out an appointment request and get to know their EMDR therapists before starting their journey toward regaining control of their life.

3. Highland Park Therapy

The team at Highland Park Therapy in Los Angeles, CA, is dedicated to helping individuals overcome trauma through EMDR therapy. They understand the impact that trauma can have on a person and offer both online and in-person therapy services to provide support for those in need. By taking an integrated approach that considers the emotional, physical, and spiritual aspects of trauma, their therapists aim to help clients regain control of their lives. 

They believe that trauma can disrupt a person’s sense of wholeness but that healing is possible with the right tools and support. Through EMDR therapy, clients can reprocess their traumatic experiences and learn to be less reactive to triggers. If you’re interested in EMDR therapy, you can schedule a complimentary phone consultation with the caring therapists at Highland Park Therapy.

4. BetterHelp

Last but not least, BetterHelp is an amazing online platform that you can check out for EMDR therapy. Therapists at BetterHelp understand that trauma can feel overwhelming and insurmountable at times. That’s why they offer a variety of therapies to help alleviate the symptoms associated with trauma, including EMDR. Even if you cannot afford in-person therapy or find a therapist practicing EMDR in your area, you can still benefit from online EMDR counseling.

BetterHelp’s online counseling allows for flexibility and convenience, as you can schedule appointments at a time that works best for you. The platform has over 30,000 therapists trained in various therapy modalities, including EMDR, as well as other trauma-informed therapies such as Internal Family Systems (IFS) and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

They also offer accessible resources like worksheets and journaling prompts. By visiting their website, you can answer a few questions to be matched with a qualified therapist and start your journey toward healing.


What types of trauma can EMDR therapy be used for?

EMDR therapy can be used for many types of trauma, including but not limited to: childhood abuse or neglect, sexual assault, combat trauma, natural disasters, and car accidents. It can also be effective for other types of distressing life experiences, such as grief or anxiety.

Is EMDR therapy effective for everyone?

While EMDR therapy can be highly effective for many people, it is not a one-size-fits-all approach and may not be the best fit for everyone. Factors such as the severity of the trauma, the person’s readiness for therapy, and the quality of the therapeutic relationship can all impact the effectiveness of EMDR therapy.
It is important to work with a trained therapist who can assess whether EMDR is a good fit for your specific needs.

How long does EMDR therapy take?

The length of EMDR therapy can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the severity of the trauma and the person’s overall level of functioning.

Some people may see improvement after just a few sessions, while others may need several months or longer to fully process the trauma. Typically, EMDR therapy is a shorter-term approach compared to other forms of talk therapy.

What should I expect during an EMDR therapy session?

During an EMDR therapy session, the therapist will guide you through a series of steps to help you process the traumatic memory. This may involve recalling the traumatic event while also engaging in a form of bilateral stimulation (such as eye movements or tapping). 

The therapist will help you identify negative beliefs you have about yourself as a result of the trauma, and work with you to develop more adaptive beliefs. Throughout the session, the therapist will check in with you to ensure you are feeling safe and comfortable.

Are there any side effects of EMDR therapy?

EMDR therapy is generally considered safe and does not typically have any serious side effects. However, some people may experience temporary increases in distress or emotional reactivity during or after a session. It is important to discuss any concerns you have with your therapist and to have a plan in place for self-care and support outside of therapy sessions.

In conclusion, EMDR therapy is a powerful form of treatment that can help individuals overcome the negative impact of traumatic experiences on their mental and emotional well-being.

By targeting the specific memories and beliefs that are causing distress, and using bilateral stimulation to facilitate processing, EMDR therapy can help individuals to reduce the emotional intensity of traumatic memories and move towards a more positive and adaptive way of thinking.

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