What is EMDR?

October 31, 2023

By Ryan Hall, LISW

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a therapy that has shown significant promise in helping individuals recover from trauma and PTSD symptoms. Recent studies have show EMDR to be effective in treating anxiety, depression, OCD and other mental health and substance use disorders.

EMDR is a structured therapy session where bilateral stimulation (usually visual or auditory cues) is applied while the patient focuses on a traumatic experience. Patients have found that while focusing on the bilateral stimulation while focusing on the traumatic experience, the typical symptoms and emotional "flooding" that normally occurs becomes less intense, allowing the patient to process the traumatic incident and explore the negative beliefs, thoughts and actions that were produced by the traumatic experience. After EMDR treatment, patients describe triggering memories or situations to be less emotionally distressing.

EMDR is based on the belief that the brain is capable of naturally processing and healing from traumatic experiences. Unprocessed traumatic memories produce stress responses that manifest themselves in physical and psychological distress that leave us feeling "stuck" or as if we are reliving the experience again. EMDR is different than normal talk therapy as the patient does not have to spend time verbalizing or recounting the traumatic experience to the therapist. Many patients find significant improvement in trauma-related symptoms after only a few visits.

Ryan Hall @whitedsepulchrerecords - is a licensed independent social worker, EMDR certified therapist and record label owner in Cincinnati, OH

This piece was written for an SOS social graphic and reformatted for our website.