EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)

What is EMDR?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy approach that has helped a variety of people of all ages relieve many types of psychological distress.

It was developed by Dr. Francine Shaprio, who made a chance observation that eye moments can reduce the intensity of disturbing thoughts under certain conditions. No one really knows how any form of psychotherapy works, however we do know that when a person is upset, their brain cannot process information as it ordinarily does. EMDR can be thought of as a neurologically based therapy that helps a person see disturbing material in a new and less distressing way.


The most common type of problem EMDR can treat:

  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Complicated Grief
  • Dissociative Disorders
  • Disturbing Memories
  • Panic Attacks
  • Phobias
  • Sexual/Physical Abuse
  • Addictions
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorders
  • Eating Disorders
  • Pain Disorders
  • Performance Anxiety
  • Stress Reductions

So how long might it take?

One or more of the first few sessions are used to understand the nature of the problem and to decided if EMDR is appropriate for treatment. A typical EMDR session lasts 50 to 90 minutes. The type of problem, life circumstances, and the amount of trauma will determine how many sessions are necessary. However, 80-90% of participants feel differences within the first 3 sessions.

What are the side effects?

As with any therapy, there may be temporary increases in distress. Some experience unresolved memories emerging, increased vivid dreams, memories feelings, physical sensations, etc.

What are the benefits of EMDR?

EMDR is well known for its difficulty and challenging approaches to counseling, so why would anyone volunteer to use this mode of treatment? Studies have shown that EMDR is a brief therapy in that it equates to a 10-1 ratio. By that it means that for every 10 talk therapy sessions, EMDR has the ability to process the same amount of information in a single session. Using the above example that most clients notice differences within the first 3 sessions, which could take 30 talk therapy sessions. For those who enter into EMDR with PTSD, clinicians and researches have proven that with consistent sessions, PTSD symptoms may be eliminated altogether.


If you are interested in more information about EMDR please visit http://www.emdr.com.


Post by: Stephanie Fillmore, MSW, CACI


To schedule an EMDR session, please contact us at 303-353-9226 or jedmonds@brightsidecounseling.net to determine if this could be a good fit for you.