It takes a huge effort to free yourself from memory.
― Paulo Cohelo

What is EMDR therapy?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. EMDR is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches.
It was developed by Francine Shapiro in the late 1980’s to treat troubling symptoms of trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder. It has been used worldwide since then to help clients come to terms with a wide variety of troubling conditions and problems. It is used within a comprehensive treatment approach to accelerate the treatment of a wide range of clinical issues.

What kinds of problems can EMDR treat?

Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Complicated Grief,

Dissociative Disorders, Disturbing Memories

Phobias, Pain Disorders, Performance Anxiety,

Stress Reduction, Addictions

Sexual and/or Physical Abuse,

Body Dysmorphic Disorders

How does EMDR work?

No one knows how any form of psychotherapy works neurobiologically or in the brain. However, we do know that when a person is very upset, their brain cannot process information as it does ordinarily. One moment becomes “frozen in time,” and remembering a trauma may feel as bad as going through it the first time because the images, sounds, smells, and feelings haven’t changed. Such memories have a lasting negative effect that interferes with the way a person sees the world and the way they relate to other people.

EMDR seems to have a direct effect on the way that the brain processes information. Normal information processing is resumed, so following a successful EMDR session, a person no longer relives the images, sounds, and feelings when the event is brought to mind. You still remember what happened, but it is less upsetting. Many types of therapy have similar goals. However, EMDR appears to be similar to what occurs naturally during dreaming or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Therefore, EMDR can be thought of as a physiologically based therapy that helps a person see disturbing material in a new and less distressing way.

Does EMDR really work?

Approximately 20 controlled studies have investigated the effects of EMDR. These studies have consistently found that EMDR effectively decreases/eliminates the symptoms of post traumatic stress for the majority of clients. Clients often report improvement in other associated symptoms such as anxiety. The current treatment guidelines of the American Psychiatric Association and the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies designate EMDR as an effective treatment for post traumatic stress. EMDR was also found effective by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense, the United Kingdom Department of Health, the Israeli National Council for Mental Health, and many other international health and governmental agencies. Research has also shown that EMDR can be an efficient and rapid treatment.

All information on EMDR was provided from the EMDRIA website:

What Lisa’s clients are saying about their experiences with EMDR

“ I can’t believe how this has changed my life and has helped me work through being stuck, It’s amazing.”

“My anxiety is so much less, I feel like a different person.”

“ Moments that once debilitated me are no longer in the forefront, I’m not sure how this happened?”

“ I can now speak in front of a group without any fear at all, I’m confident and fine with it.”

“ I’m in shock! We often don’t realize that the thing we have not processed and hold onto has caused us the most suffering. This treatment has changed everything for me.”

Photo by Peter Anjoorian